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Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Each month in Parents, we print the 27 funniest, truest words about parenting from our favorite bloggers. Our March issue features a quote from mom-of-two Julie Brasington at Happy Home Fairy. Read her full blog post below.
It seems that I have children who are sick 96% of the time.
Am I not cleaning my house enough? Is it because it’s the Happy Baby’s first year in Day Care? Should I be washing their hands more? Is it because I don’t give them tablespoons of honey and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning?
Or maybe they’re just kids.
But let me tell you. Each time one of my kids get sick, I come at it with clenched teeth and (not going to lie) feeling a little bit ticked off.
I mean, I knew that being a mom was no easy gig, but I sincerely never thought that the Nose Frida was going to end up being “the greatest” gift I ever received from our baby registry.
These days I find myself wanting to tell all the starry-eyed moms-to-be to take a good long look at their piles of super cute new baby outfits and adorable matchy matchy crib linens and just imagine everything covered in diarrhea.
BAM. Expectations adjusted.
But whenever I finally realize the negative behaviors in myself that need to be pruned out (ie. getting ticked off and sulky with God when the stomach bug moves in for 2 long, messy weeks), I take some time to ask the Lord for His opinion on the matter.
Check this out …
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” – C.S. Lewis (quote found in this encouraging post)
Do I believe that God authors every aspect of my life?
Then instead of constantly fighting God on the unpleasant aspects of mothering (say, fevers and barfs), I would like to learn to quietly accept them, trusting that He knows what He is doing. He is sending them and bringing them for my good.
For my sanctification, even.
So, as we enter flu season, here are some of the “good” things (and a few hopefully helpful tips) He is showing me in between the interruptions Kleenex boxes.
Just after Valentine’s Day this year, the Happy Buddy got strep throat. I needed to get some medicine for him, so I ran to the drugstore. I happened to hit their after-holiday sale just right and found a huge stuffed bear for only a couple of bucks. I knew that having to give the Happy Buddy 10 days of meds was going to be A-W-F-U-L so I thought bringing him a little comfort might help. I snatched the bear up and on the way home decided to name him Sick Bear. He loved it so much that now, whenever anyone gets sick, he comes out of his home in the closet for snuggles and intense strangling while medication is being administered hugs until they get better. Then Sick Bear gets a superior deep cleaning and goes back in the closet (I think the longest Sick Bear has ever stayed in his closet has been about 12 days).
Make a Couch Bed
When I was a little girl and got sick, my mom would transform the couch into a bed. She’d take fresh, crisp sheets and tuck them in nice and tight. We’d bring down my bed pillows and stuffed animals and I’d curl up on the couch to watch as much Saved By the Bell, Full House, and Mickey Mouse Club TV as I could possibly handle. She’d make me toast cut in triangles and serve it to me on a TV tray. I felt like a queen! I now do this for the Happy Buddy and he is more than thrilled at the chance to take up residence in front of the tube. Who knew that endless episodes of Pocoyo could be so therapeutic?
The Magic of the Cool Washcloth
Best thing ever when I was younger and had fevers. I still remember the smell of the clean wash towel and the feel of it on my head when my mom would rest it there. I loved flipping it over in 5 minute intervals to feel the coolness of the new side. My boys love it, too.
I wish I was that person that brewed homemade herbal teas to bring down fevers and strained garlic or whatever to heal ear infections. But I am just not there yet – although I am open to learning. I definitely don’t want to be unwisely pumping meds into my kid every time they get a runny nose, but sometimes medicine is the answer. You have to do antibiotics? No sweat. Pick up a probiotic along with it and call it a day (or 10 days). Plus, I think that giving our kids medicine can be a great way for us to learn more about God. I don’t know about you, but my highly sensory child is incredibly disgusted by the taste of most medicines. If we can’t find it in a bland form or mix it with something he does like, then often we must do whatever means we can think of to get him what his body needs. Even if that means we have to gently pin his poor, sweet arms down and shoot it in with a syringe. Sometimes we don’t like the taste of something God has brought our way, but He, as a loving Father, gives it because He knows it will bring about our ultimate healing …
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Bring Comfort to Another
Because we do sick so much over here, I have grown quite attentive to the needs of my friends when their children are sick. I once brought a simple meal to one of my BFFs who had 2 sick babies AND she, herself, was sick. We’re talking rotisserie chicken, frozen sweet potato fries and a bag of organic microwaveable broccoli kind of meal. It wasn’t much, but she had been so busy wiping noses that she had not made it to the store for food in days, so to her, it was practically manna from heaven. You could also Ding-Dong-Ditch a basket containing a new DVD, some popsicles, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, tissues, etc. to bring a much-needed spot of hope to a friend with sick kids.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We know the Happy Buddy is getting sick when his normally strong-willed, busy self becomes a little sweeter, a bit less active, and a lot more attached. I get the chance to actually hold my “baby” for longer than a millisecond and bring him the kind of comfort only I, as his mama, can bring. Isn’t it funny how, for many of us, we want our mommies when we get sick? Even though I know the Happy Hubby loves me so much and would do almost anything for me, he will not stand at the toilet holding my hair back and stroking my head gently while I puke like my mom used to do. Instead, if he hears me hurling, he will toss a hair tie into the bathroom before fleeing the scene like an escaped prisoner! So, cherish those extra sick hugs, sweet mommies. Try not to rush off too quickly to get back to Clorox-ing absolutely everything in the house because when he’s away at college and catches the flu, you’re going to be the one he speed dials at 2 am simply because he wants to hear your voice.
“The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High God will be kept safe by the Mighty One, I will say about the Lord, “He is my place of safety… I trust in Him…” Psalm 91:1-2
Share Jesus with the Doctor’s Office
The Happy Baby had the stomach flu last month and it got really bad on a Saturday (of course). Fortunately our doctor’s office is open on the weekend, but unfortunately everyone else in the county had also come down with the stomach flu. We ended up having to wait for almost 2 hours! The people around us were cranky and complaining and putting pressure on the nurses to speed things up. These are perfect opportunities to be the LIGHT in the room, my friends. Extend grace and kindness and patience to the hard working men and women behind the counter. If you can, think in advance and bring them a little treat. We once brought Hershey’s Kisses to all the nurses (wrapped in 3 germ-free layers of plastic wrap and Ziploc bag). It got our minds off our physical problems and gave us a chance to have a little fun and also be a blessing.
“A joyful heart is good medicine …” Proverbs 17:22
Step Up the Prayers
When things are easy, we can easily fall into the trap of not recognizing our need for God and therefore not spend as much time in His presence. When my kids are sick, though, I find myself pressing in deeper, memorizing Scripture verses, reading the Word, and praying A LOT. I’ll hold my babies and whisper words of comfort in their ears. Prayers for healing. Prayers that speak of the unchanging attributes of our Lord. Prayers offering the hope of a place where we will be one day that does not have the Chicken Pox or Rotavirus. And as I practice this, I realize that it ends up being more for me than for my children because I am drawn closer to my Savior. I am reminded of His goodness, the greater purpose, the taste of His strength (as opposed to my own), and His presence in the midst of darkness.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Another Opportunity to Surrender
Does anyone else struggle to remember on a daily basis that our kids are not our own? They belong to God. Period. So when they get sick we cannot react by tightening our grip and stressing out. Sickness is beyond our control. Instead, it is a chance to hold our babies out before the Lord – like Abraham did with Isaac, like Moses’ mom did before she put him in the basket, like Hannah did when she brought freshly weaned Samuel to the temple, like Mary did with Jesus – and receive His peace for their future and for ours.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
Your Child Gets to See What a Servant Looks Like
Mommies, our homes are places where our children get to experience Jesus, firsthand. There is no better time to share the tender and unfailing and perfect example of Christ then when you have a little one in need. I used to walk around all tangled up in a ball of anxiety and frustration when my kids got sick. I was tense and fearful and in a hurry to see them get better. I’d grumble and complain about everything that got barf or poo on it and I’d fuss about having to miss church or work or the ruining of a “fun” family vacation. And God forbid one child get the other child sick too!
After the 157th illness, however, I feel like I am finally learning to let go. I am finally learning what it means to truly serve – as Jesus did. Instead of staring at them with a giant burden in my spirit, I am starting to joyfully ask my sick babies, “What can I do for you?” and “Is there anything you need, my darling?” because I believe this is what our Savior humbly modeled for us. He knelt on hands and knees to wash the dirty, nasty feet of his beloved friends. He laid gentle hands on ill children. He had compassion on the great crowds and healed their sick.
But more important, He died on the cross to cure the most awful, wide-spread, debilitating sickness of all …
So, the next time you hear that first sniffle or get the middle of the night vomit-covered-bedroom call, we, as moms, can find purpose, joy, and strength in our hands and knees scrubbing of snot and yak, knowing that, in a way, He did it too.
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed…” Isaiah 53:5
Find the right pediatrician for your little one or shop cool baby gear.
Image courtesy of Julie Brasington.
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Monday, March 3rd, 2014
High-tech kid-monitoring gadgets like these take helicopter parenting to an NSA-worthy level.
Mini Hidden Alarm Clock
Little does your tot know, this device comes equipped with a motion-activated video recorder, so you can catch him the moment he starts shoving jelly beans up his nose. Plus, a rechargeable battery with 10 hours of recording power means you can creep on your little angel. All. Day. Long. $129; brickhousesecurity.com
Rambunctious preschoolers may be difficult to wrangle, but this stylish Bluetooth-enabled device can be worn by your child as a bracelet or a necklace. An app monitors the distance between you and your kiddo, and alerts you if he moves outside of a range you set, between 0 and 230 feet. $30; beluvv.com
This nifty app helps you GPS-track your kid’s location, monitor social media accounts, create account restrictions, and will even alert you if he’s traveling in a car that’s going over a speed limit you select. Plus, the easy-to-use child’s version of the app lets him check in to let you know his location, ask to be picked up,or send an “SOS” if he’s in trouble. App and basic service, free; mamabearapp.com
Are you a positive parent? An attachment-style parent? Take our quiz and find out!
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Actress and comedienne Kym Whitley, known for her larger than life personality and hilarious roles in movies and film alike, is back with all-new episodes of her hit docu-series, Raising Whitley on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The episodes premiered January 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM ET/PT.
Kym opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the upcoming episodes of Raising Whitley that she says “dive into my life as a mom.” She goes on to talk about her 3-year-old son Joshua and the “village” it takes to raise him. Continue reading about her upcoming projects and New Year’s resolution.
CBS: All-new episodes of Raising Whitley premiered on January 4th. What can fans expect to see in the upcoming episodes?
KW: They are going to see more fun, of course, as well as more motherhood. We’ve expanded the episodes from 30 minutes to an hour. Before the show played like a sitcom, because the 30 minutes were mostly all fun, and now we have the chance to really dive into my life as a mom. It’s an expansion of that.
CBS: Could you tell us about The Village in the series?
KW: The Village consists of a group of my friends that have been around for years, some of them not necessarily on a day-to-day basis. My ‘village’ and I work together, and baby Joshua is the glue that keeps us all together. I don’t think a lot of us would hang out as much as we do if there wasn’t Joshua.
All of the ‘villagers’ came in when Joshua became a part of my life. I had made a call crying out for help in raising the child and they all agreed. They all split up the responsibilities and everyone has their own certain specialty. Some of them are good at education and handle that and some are good at nutrition so they talk about that. What I like to say about The Village is that they are all the parent. Instead of just trying to do everything myself, they are the other parent that helps.
CBS: Why do you think viewers are so drawn to your hit docu-series?
KW: I believe that it is a good escape. It is a docu-series that is fun and funny, and you can learn something. If I can get you to laugh and you walk away learning something, then I’ve done my job. I believe that people just want to laugh and have a good time. I am a different kind of celebrity; I don’t have the big, giant house, the fancy cars, and all the designer stuff. I am just a girl from Cleveland. I believe in letting people see the real. For example, I have a microwave in my house that has a turn dial [laughs].
CBS: The upcoming episodes will also give viewers an inside look at your quest to raise awareness of childhood allergies. Could you tell us about your “Don’t Feed Me” allergy awareness T-Shirts and care packs?
KW: Absolutely. I didn’t know that my son had allergies until he spit up eggs one day and one day he had a little peanut butter and his face swelled up. I took him to get tested and found out that he is allergic to everything. I had to figure out a way to make sure my son was always safe while he was in the care of others like the ‘villagers.’
I made a T-shirt that features the child’s name and checks off all of the allergies he or she may have, and you can also write them in. That gave me peace of mind when I sent my son to baby daycare or when he went out with friends to a birthday party. I also made a medicine bag where you can check off the child’s name and check off what he is allergic to, so that the caretaker always knows what he is allergic to and has the necessary medicine.
CBS: How old is Joshua now? What is he like personality-wise?
KW: Joshua is such a joy! He will be 3 years old this month. Ever since he was born, he has been a very special soul. He is extremely smart and knows every little thing. He catches on to everything! He also loves music – he plays the drums and the piano and he’s only three. He loves music and is an amazing little boy.
CBS: What are the greatest rewards of being a mother? Are there any major challenges?
KW: One of the rewards is the discovery. My life is different now and I have a different path of discovery. I would have never had that if I hadn’t become a mother. It has made me look at life differently. The reward is that instead of a barometer, I now have a meter of what is important in life, because I put him first before I make a decision.
There are definitely challenges. For example, trying to work creates challenges and you wonder about a lot of things. Where does he go to school when you’ve never been a parent? I probably wouldn’t get him into kindergarten until he is nine if I didn’t have the help, because I have no idea [laughs].
I am actually working on a book right now, because I thought to myself, ‘If I am a mother and I don’t know what is going on, I am going to write a funny book to help moms. It makes no sense. Do you put them in daycare then preschool, then do they go to kindergarten?’ Those are some of the challenges I highlight in the book.
I am working on the book as we speak. It is a funny take on motherhood. I think I have a different perspective than a lot of mothers. I am open and honest, and sometimes things are ridiculous. I want the book to be where the readers can see themselves and not be so serious about it. I wanted to do a funny take on that and show mothers how to get that fifteen minute nap. For example, inviting your girlfriends over and telling them you have a new recipe you want to show them, then you lock the door of your bedroom and go to sleep [laughs].
CBS: What kind of mom are you? What is your parenting style?
KW: My parenting style is probably like that of my parents, because you do how you learn. My mother was very nurturing and loving, but very stern. She was a disciplinary. My dad was also very loving. I would say that I am funny and I give a lot of ‘time-outs,’ but they work.
My parenting style is ever-evolving, and the first thing I learned is patience. The biggest lesson I have also learned is that a child needs a nap. When you think your child has lost his or her mind, and there is nothing that Superman or anyone can do, you just stop and think, ‘Oh! He needs a nap!’ Hands down, it works every time.
CBS: Do you think that women can really “have it all?” Why or why not?
KW: We work very hard and the biggest job is being a mother, then you put a career and being a wife on top of that. It’s almost impossible. You only have 24 hours in a day and you have to sleep, eat, and some of us have to work. I believe that women must know that they need to pace themselves and ask for help, then they can have it all.
CBS: With the New Year here, do you have any special resolutions?
KW: This year when I meet women on the street, I want to be forward with compliments and encouragement. Sometimes women ultimately judge and look down on one another and will say something, but we very seldom say something nice to a stranger. ‘Beautiful dress! Love your hair!’ That is what I want to do this year.
CBS: What else is up next for you?
KW: I have a show that just got picked up on ABC Family called Young & Hungry. It is a very funny show about a chef named Gabi who tries to find a job with a young, hot millionaire. I play his maid. I also have a movie with Marlon Wayans called A Haunted House 2 that is also coming out. My cartoon Black Dynamite is also coming back for a second season, and I also did a family movie on the Hallmark Channel called Anything Is Possible, which is about a boy who starts playing the piano at three years old and now he is eleven. It’s an incredible film!
Please follow me on Twitter at @kymwhitley.
To catch Kym on Raising Whitley, tune into OWN on Saturdays at 9:00PM ET/PT.
Take our parenting style quiz to see what type of parent you are, check out which celebrities gave birth in 2013, or find kids’ toys at Shop Parents.
More celebrity & parenting news:
Jill Zarin: “I Hate New Year’s Resolutions”
Shanola Hampton: “This Has Been A Super Easy Pregnancy”
11 Most Shocking Headlines of 2013
CelebrityBabyScoop.com is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on CelebrityBabyScoop.com.
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Monday, October 21st, 2013
Major spoiler alert: Gravity—the box office hit starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts—isn’t about space at all. I mean, of course all the action takes place in space, and it’s packed with plenty breathtaking shots of our planet as seen from above, but Gravity is about something far more down to earth. Specifically, it’s about what it means to be a parent.
Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, is a scientist on her first venture out into space. Much like a newborn baby, she’s in a brand new place where the very unexpected and dangerous can—and does—happen. (Director Alfonso Cuarón even goes so far with the newborn metaphor as to show us Ryan floating in the fetal position with what looks like an umbilical cord tethering her—watch for it maybe 30 minutes in, really cool shot.) Luckily for Ryan she’s not alone. Matt Kowalski, her far more space-savvy colleague, takes on a very paternal role, coaching her through unfamiliar situations, and straight-up parenting her. But, like with all parent/child relationships, there’s a time that Matt has to literally let go, and Ryan will have to find her own way armed only with the lessons Matt has left her. It’s one of the most direct stories of growing up and finding your legs that I’ve seen in ages. It’s also a beautiful, if painful, lesson in the necessity of setting your progeny free.
But let’s talk more about Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan. She isn’t just any woman trying to grow up and find her way in this unpredictable, often scary universe. We learn early on that she’s a mother—specifically, a mother whose daughter was killed at a very young age in a freak playground accident. Some critics have called Ryan’s backstory “schmaltzy,” but I think it’s vital to the story, in underlining that parents (and people in general) want to think we have control, when in reality so many things in life are terrifyingly beyond our influence. No, it’s not a warm and fuzzy message—but I don’t think parenting is warm and fuzzy all the time. Raising a child, knowing that her well-being and even existence depends on you, can be scary. Nearly as scary at times, some might argue, as floating above the earth, unprotected, with giant hunks of space debris hurtling in your direction.
The lesson Gravity teaches is that parenting (and life in general) can be a harrowing experience. The best thing we can do is to push forward, never give up, and try to cherish the exquisite view along the way.
What’s your parenting style? Find out here.
Image of Gravity star Sandra Bullock courtesy yahoo.com
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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Red Tricycle announced the winners of its 3rd Annual Totally Awesome Awards, a reader-driven awards program recognizing the best parenting brands, products, neighborhood services and resources for families with children ages 0-10.
The Totally Awesome Awards included 64 national Baby & Kids Essentials categories and 31 Local categories in 12 U.S. cities.
Parents from across the nation picked their favorite family-friendly businesses throughout a 12-week period. More than 236,777 votes were cast and the results for the Totally Awesome Awards Essentials winners are listed below. The local winners can be found at awards.redtri.com
Red Tricycle celebrated the winners and Top 10 finalists of the Totally Awesome Awards with 9 parties in 9 U.S. cities (Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.). Sponsored by Zulily, Zevia, Urbansitter and Smartypants, the Totally Awesome Awards parties brought together all the winners, finalists and local influencers in each market.
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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
In the past week, my 6-year-old has lost 4 teeth. She has trouble eating, and I just can’t help snapping a million pictures of her toothless smile and video taping her talk. I asked her what her classmates think of her new smile and she said “No one in my clath hath teeth.” The poor thing. 1st grade is rough.
The other night, I reached under her pillow to swap a tooth for a dollar and I found a note written on an index card that read: “This stuff is for you the tooth fairy. I love you. Love, Leli.” And, as if it couldn’t get any cuter, she drew an arrow at the bottom and wrote “Write back.” Her tooth was sitting in the middle of a bracelet with a toy flower, a button, and a bead. I melted. I took all of the gifts and wrote on the back of the card in swirly letters, “Thank you, Leli. You are so special and I love you.”
It seemed like the only thing to do, but when she woke up in the morning, ecstatic and dreamy eyed, I felt pretty guilty. She said, “If I knew what size the tooth fairy wore, I’d make her the prettiest little dress,” and I thought, What am I going to do when she finds out the truth?
What am I really doing when I forge a letter from the Tooth Fairy, or wrap the presents from Santa in different wrapping paper? Am I making her childhood magical, or am I setting her up for heartbreak?
I remember when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher told a boy in my class to stop telling the truth about Santa, because some kids still believe. I went home to my parents and said, “I don’t know why my teacher made it seem like he’s not real.” That’s when they broke the news, and that’s the first time I experienced the feeling of betrayal.
Not to get all dramatic, but 7-year-old me couldn’t believe that my parents (who I thought loved me) would lie to my face and make me look like an idiot. That’s really how I felt. So why am I doing this to my child?
Honestly, part of it is because I want to make the most of her innocence before it’s gone. I can be Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Mama, and best friend, until she’s around 12 when I’ll become Mom, and my only super power will be the ability to suppress and annoy her. But another part of it is that losing your teeth without the Tooth Fairy would be the pits. And wrapping gifts at midnight while she sleeps without the cookies for Santa would be unfair (whoops, that’s me again).
I’ve come to terms with the fact that one day, she’ll peek behind the curtain and find me — the master manipulator; but I’m determined to rack up as many smiles as I can before that day comes. Hopefully love will magically make her forgive me.
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Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Last week, when the winds of the back-to-school storm were just dying down — the 2-page list of supplies were purchased, new clothes and shoes and accessories had their way with my wallet, afterschool plans were set and paid for, the pediatrician saw us, and any sneaky lice were evicted from my 6-year-old’s head — my sister asked me, “When are you going to have another one?”
I kindly asked her to zip it.
She’s not the only person concerned with the contents of my uterus. Since my daughter’s first day home, I don’t think that I’ve gone a full week without someone asking when I plan on giving her a friend.
“She has plenty of friends,” I reply. “Friends that I don’t have to pay for.”
But everyone from my grandmother to strangers on the subway tells me that I am doing my daughter a disservice by “forcing her to go through life alone.”
At this point I wish I had a big buzzer like the ones that go off on game shows when a contestant gets an answer wrong, because according to studies (and me—Mother knows best) my only child is going to be just fine.
In a study titled, “Good for Nothing: Number of Siblings and Friendship Nominations Among Adolescents,” researchers found that the very modest social deficit sometimes seen in kindergarten evaporated when only children reached middle school. A large number of children (13,500) in grades seven through twelve at 100 different schools were asked to name ten friends. The only children were just as popular as their peers with siblings. Furthermore, the authors noted, “These results contribute to the view that there is little risk to growing up without siblings-or alternatively, that siblings really may be ‘good for nothing,’” reports Psychology Today.
So there you have it. She won’t be lonely. But what about the self-centered only child stereotype?
Confession: When I was in middle school, people always said, “You’re so bratty. You must be an only child.” And then they would find out that I’m the youngest, and that fit too — it’s always something.
In a study titled Behavioral Characteristics of the Only Child vs First-Born and Children with Siblings, researchers found that the status of being an only child is not associated with a poor outcome in several areas of the development.
“Simply, we tend to succeed at significantly higher rates than people raised with siblings, whether it’s at school or in our professional endeavors. Solitary pursuits like reading train our focus and curiosity and the verbally rich environment of life among adults accelerates our learning,” Lauren Sandler writes in her book One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.
I suppose I cannot say for certain that the future doesn’t hold another child for our family; we haven’t done anything to make it technically impossible. But it is reassuring to know that, while I’m comfortably balancing my career, marriage, and one child, my daughter is not lacking in a single thing.
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Monday, July 1st, 2013
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
Volumes have been written about kids’ developmental progress—when they first roll from front to back, sit, walk, utter their first words, and countless other baby benchmarks. But often lost in the glow of babies’ accomplishments are the parallel milestones parents achieve after their kids are born. Similarly to how the age of a child’s first steps and first words can be roughly predicted, I’ve identified 14 reliable markers you can anticipate along your developmental path as a parent. So, published here for the first time are Harley Rotbart’s Developmental Milestones of Parenting.
The Womb: Nurture, Nest, and Nausea
The parenting adventure hasn’t even started yet, but there are great expectations mixed with apprehension and mystery. How is it possible that each edition of Heidi Murkoff’s wonderful What to Expect When You’re Expecting gets thicker and more intense than the previous edition? How can there be so much to learn and prepare? What did expectant parents do before books?
Birth to 1 month: Fear, Shock, and Awe
Everything about your first newborn is, well, new! You can’t even begin to know how much you don’t know, but you’re sure there’s a lot. How did your parents ever do this? How did the neighbors? Add to that sense of ignorance a creeping sense of panic, and a sense of responsibility like nothing you’ve ever felt before—not with a new car, a new house, or a new job. Nothing puts more weight on your shoulders than an 8-pound baby.
1 month to 3 months: Warmth and Wide-Eyed Wonder
Now we’re finally getting somewhere. Eye contact, babbling, and smiling all reassure you that there may be a little person hidden in this bundle of blankets and diapers. This is the developmental phase, when intense bonding takes place because the interactions with your baby are now more consistently two-way. If he’s smiling, you must be doing something right.
3 months to 7 months: Vaudeville and Variety Show Performer
Parents now go through what appears to the rest of the world to be a developmental regression: speaking baby talk, making goofy noises and silly faces, dancing daffy dances, singing senseless songs, and peek-a-boo-ing endlessly. Doing whatever it takes for your baby to give you one of those belly laughs that turns your insides to goo.
7 months to 12 months: Biographer and Curator
Although your baby’s first smile and laugh are unforgettable events during the earlier stages of parenthood, the “firsts” now come fast and furiously. The first time your baby sits, pulls to a stand, cruises, takes steps, and utters a word are the firsts you’ll remember most, the ones that you’ll write down and film for posterity. More photographs are taken per minute during this phase of parenting than any other.
1 year to 2 years: Secret Service Agent
Parents are now in full bodyguard and gatekeeper mode, from the time their toddler wakes up until the time he’s asleep for the night (if you’re lucky enough that he’s asleep for the night!). Your tot’s mobility and curiosity are soaring, and the dangers surrounding him are becoming your constant obsession. You feel as though you always have to be one step ahead of your little adventurer.
2 years to 3 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 1)
This is the stage when parents teach boundaries and rules to their kids, and in so doing they learn to live with being the bad guy. Parents of toddlers say “no” more than any other word, which is excellent practice for having teenagers (when you enter Designated Bad Guy stage 2). Although experts extol the virtues of setting limits and structure for kids, that doesn’t help with the guilt you feel as the constant naysayer.
3 years to 5 years: Best Friend
This is the age when your kids are beginning to form their lifelong memories—and just in time because they’re now able to do so many more memorable activities. Your child is now a tricycler, climber, artist, and actor. Now is also when all their questions start: Whyyyy, Mommy? Howwww, Daddy? Better get your answers ready, because this is the parenting stage when you should become your kids’ best friend forever. This is when they learn to come to you not only with constant questions but also with problems you may see as exaggerated, but your kids see as front-page news. If you handle this bonding time right, they’ll keep sharing issues with you when they’re older and their problems are bigger.
5 years to 7 years: Separation (stage 1)
Some parents are jubilant about their child’s first day of kindergarten; others, not so much. In describing grief, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross noted five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Just sayin’.
7 years to 10 years: Chauffeur, Choreographer, and Cruise Director
Your kids’ calendar is now filled up, and the tires on your car are worn down. Juggling your kids’ schedules with your own commitments could be a full-time job for a party planner or White House Chief of Staff. But since you can’t afford to hire either, this is when you had better master parental organization.
10 years to 12 years: Life Coach
The so-called tween years of your kids’ lives are also tween years in yours. You’re now transitioning from a period of reasonable control over your kids’ lives (7 to 10 years) to the next phase (12 to 15 years), when you lack all sense of control over anything. Your crisis and stress management skills will be tested in a gentler and kinder way now than they will be in few years, so this is the time to establish healthy parental coping patterns in preparation for what’s to come. This is also when you become your kids’ life coach—anticipating the challenges they will have as teens, you may now feel an uncontrollable urge to tell them everything they’ll ever need to know in their whole lives. That’s okay, but check periodically to see whether they’re still listening or if they’ve put their ear buds back in.
12 years to 15 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 2)
This is when you catch yourself sounding like your own parents, something you promised you’d never do. The word no returns to your vocabulary with a vengeance. The early teen years force you to answer the question “Am I my kids’ parent or their best friend?” And the answer that most helps you get through the challenges of these parenting years should be “yes.” Kids need law and order now more than ever, but they also need your friendship and love more than ever—a tricky balancing act.
15 years to 18 years: Separation (stage 2)
Now is the time for parents to develop nerves of steel; nothing else will get you through your child’s getting a driver’s license. Driving is your child’s first launch into independence. Although their most dramatic declaration of independence will occur as you say goodbye at their dorm room a few years from now, driving is nature’s way of easing parents into the idea of their kids leaving home. No longer needed to chauffeur or accompany, you now face the challenge of adjusting to the new reality of having near-grown kids. You’ll go to bed before they do, so remember to ask them to wake you when they’re home for the night.
18 years and Beyond: Long Distance
For many parents, college means empty bedrooms at home. Parenting isn’t over, it’s just more remote. Read my NYTimes.com blog post 8 Tips for Keeping Adult Children Close for some tips.
As you notice your children’s growth and development, be conscious of yours as well. Enjoy each stage of parenting for what it is: another leg in the unique journey of your life.
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Image: Two traces of feet made of pebble stones via Shutterstock.
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