Monday, February 23rd, 2015
I can’t stop thinking about the inspiring talk I heard recently by Robin Berman, M.D., author of the book Permission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child With Love and Limits. One of the most challenging parts of parenthood, she said, is being an emotional grown-up.
It’s hard enough to deal with all the practical and financial aspects of adulthood. But when you’re tired or stressed or frustrated, it can take a lot of self-control not to have your own meltdown. Or to say something critical or sarcastic or insensitive that you’ll regret later.
Of course, the opposite of acting like a grown-up is acting like a child. While it’s perfectly normal for a little kid to be moody and self-centered and out-of-control sometimes, it’s our job as parents to put our own needs and issues aside and focus on what’s best for our kids. That doesn’t mean we should be selfless or indulge their every whim, but we have to be mature enough to take the high road, to think before we speak, and to not expect our kids to make us feel better.
I’m sure you can tell plenty of stories about other parents you know who’ve taken the low road. However, we all have moments when we’d like a Mommy do-over.
Just one of my own examples: My 10-year-old has been having nightmares lately, and she’s been calling for me repeatedly through the night. She gets truly frightened, and I have to sit with her and help her do breathing exercises and visualize happy scenes instead of scary ones. But we’ve both been losing a lot of sleep. There have been nights when I’ve seemed angry about being woken up (again), and I hate that. So I’ve apologized. The nightmares aren’t her fault. I want her to know that I have faith that she will get through this rocky patch and that I’m here to support her.
“No parent ever gets it right the first time…parenting is the ultimate in on-the-job training,” writes Dr. Berman. “Lucky for us, kids are very forgiving. “
Here are some other quotes that have stuck with me:
“Parenting is a divine invitation to be your best self.”
“You wouldn’t cough on your child without covering your mouth. So make sure your unresolved issues don’t infect your children.”
“If you feel your control or patience waning, remind yourself of the role you want to be remembered for: hero, not villain; protector, not persecutor.”
“Why is it we pay more attention to recharging our smartphones than to recharging ourselves? If we were smart, we’d pay attention when our battery light started flashing ‘low.’”
“No matter what difficulties you run into with your children, keep imagining them at their best. Believing things will get better gives you both something to hold on to until they do.”
Dr. Berman is the newest member of our expert Board of Advisors, and you’ll be hearing more of her voice in our pages. Treat yourself to a copy of her book.
Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters.
Photo of mom and daughter with painted faces via Shutterstock
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child development, child health, children's health, emotional health, emotions, mental health, parenting, parenting style, role model, role models | Categories:
Big Kids, Child Development, Health, Parenting, The Parents Perspective, Toddlers
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
I love superheroes, so I was fascinated when I read Marvel Comics introduced a new Parkistani-American female superhero named Ms. Marvel. Ms. Marvel is the alter ego of Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim teen living in Jersey City, NJ who discovers she has shape-shifting abilities. She takes on the superhero moniker of Ms. Marvel as an homage to her own favorite female superhero, the original Ms. Marvel.
There aren’t many really strong, ethnic female superheroes out there for young girls to admire, so I love that Marvel Comics took a leap in creating such a special character. Growing up, I watched “X-Men” cartoons and dreamed about being Jubilee because she was the only Chinese-American superhero I saw on TV. In the cartoon, she had a goofy-looking outfit, but she also had the power to shoot fireworks out of her hands. But beyond our shared ethnicity, I didn’t identify with her alter ego: an orphaned daughter of wealthy immigrants who lived in Beverly Hills, and who was once on the track to becoming an Olympic gymnast.
In addition to Jubilee, I also admired Batgirl, the version shown on TV reruns of “Batman” with Adam West. I loved how a seemingly mild-mannered bookworm could transform into a confident crimefighting superhero able to kick butt alongside the guys. Plus, she had a pretty awesome purple suit and purple motorcycle. But even though we were both only children, I still couldn’t fully identify with her alter ego as the 20-something daughter of a police commissioner.
Kamala Khan, on the other hand, is someone who truly feels fresh, real, and contemporary; aside from her extraordinary powers and superhero costume, she’s just an ordinary girl with ordinary struggles. She’s someone young girls can admire as they grow up grappling to find their place in the world. She’s someone even I could have identified with growing up. (And who doesn’t like identifying with a superhero that’s just like them in some way?) Kamala is the child of immigrants, she’s a minority female teen, and she’s trying to integrate a conservative upbringing with a modern world, while also dealing with friendships, grades, religion, and family. These were all things I struggled with as a teen.
What’s even better about the character is that she’s being written by an award-winning novelist and female Muslim, G. Willow Wilson. Speaking to The New York Times, Wilson mentioned that the new Ms. Marvel series will be “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are” shown “through the lens of being a Muslim-American.” Even though the new Ms. Marvel isn’t the first Muslim superhero introduced in the comic-book world, she will be the first character to grapple with religion, which plays a big part in her life. The series debuts in February 2014, and I can’t wait to add it to my collection of Marvel comic books based on Jane Austen novels. (Because isn’t Lizzie Bennet just as strong and sassy as Batgirl?)
Which female superheroes did you admire growing up? Which ones do you want your daughters to love?
Update (11/8/2013): Read an interview with G. Willow Wilson by my friend Dilshad D. Ali, who blogs over at Altmuslim on Patheos.com!
Photo: Ms. Marvel design by Adrian Alphona, from Marvel.com
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