Finding Room For Family Time In A Fast Paced World

By Steven C.

Sometimes work schedules stretch mothers and fathers to the breaking point with little time left for the people who matter most: children. Thankfully, spending time with family is more than ticking away the hours of a dull day; it is about quality interaction between parents and children. Even though it may seem like the twenty-four hour day needs to be lengthened, it actually provides plenty of time to accomplish the most important mission of all—time with family.

Schedules, including work, travel, and possibly continued education, often seem like the enemy. They appear to rob parents of valuable time with children during their formative years. This seemingly dark cloud does have a silver lining, however. Work provides valuable resources for the family in terms of food, shelter, health insurance, and savings. Additional education enriches the parents’ lives, broadens their horizons, and can lead to more rewarding careers. Beyond the obvious, these necessary activities outside parenting provide parents with a very important reminder: Time is precious.

In parenting, as in life, it is vital to remember the value of your time varies by how you spend it. If a parent spends all day at home watching television, obviously the child is not benefiting from their presence. On the other hand, if a parent spends just fifteen minutes devoted to interaction with their child, that parent will have done wonders for their little one. Quality, not necessarily quantity, is the main feature of a healthy parent-child relationship.

Presence is more than a physical state. Love and care are involved in the selection of childcare, clothing, and feeding children. Every aspect of a child’s world exists because of the efforts put forth by the parent or caregiver. The parent sustains the life of the child. This vital role does not evaporate when the parent dons business attire and continues on their morning commute after dropping their child off at school.

Children whose parents work are not always suffering souls. Involvement in extracurricular activities and preschool as a result of parental work schedules often benefit the child. High quality, loving daycare and preschool settings enrich children’s lives and provide a solid foundation for the future. In fact, in a 1996 study entitled The Five to Seven Year Shift: The Age of Reason and Responsibility researchers found, “Children with extensive preschool experience tend to adjust to kindergarten more easily than those who spent little or no time in preschool. Children who start kindergarten with peers they know and like generally do better.”

Part of being there for a child is letting that child know they are in your thoughts; it is a matter of doing little things that show you care. Small remembrances like sending a note in your child’s lunch or bringing them a healthy snack or something to drink when picking them up at the end of a long day at school or preschool are a token of affection your young child will treasure. Older children may also appreciate hearing a retelling of a joke heard by the parent during the day, the chance to engage in a conversation about their school day, or a discussion of plans around the table in the evening. In all cases, showing that a child’s feelings matter and they are remembered even in their absence is an important part of family bonding. These small acts do not require vast amounts of time; they only require small continual acknowledgements by the parent.

In an effort to build a strong bond and fond memories, set routines can be a benefit to hurried, harried parents. The morning rush out the door can become more pleasant through planning. For younger children, getting an early start each day, with a morning book reading as the child is waking, sets a nice tone for the day and makes waking up less of a chore. Reading to children, for as little as five to fifteen minutes each day, at a young age provides children valuable skills for the future. According to Gabrielle Simcock, author of a recent study related to children and reading published by the American Psychological Association, “…research shows that very young children can learn to perform novel actions with novel objects from a brief picture-book reading interaction. This common form of interaction that takes place very early in children’s lives, may provide an important source of information to them about the world around them.”

All the way out the door and up the steps to school, through reinforcing and comforting routines, parents can work to create bonds that will set the stage for strong family ties. For example, children love to play games in the car. Younger children can enjoy play games of I-Spy and variations of the License Plate Game to pass the time on the way to class. Encouraging words from the parent as the drive goes along can help the child learn about the world and experience the affection of the parent.

Later in the day, routines can be a blessing as well, dinner at the table—even if it is a fast food meal picked up on the way home—can provide quality family time. Discussing the day’s events before dispersing for homework, housework, or bed gives families the opportunity to check in with each other and show that they care. Reading a book at night, before tucking the child into bed is a tried and true parenting routine beloved by generations of children. Time conscious parents will be happy to note that story books listing the average length of the story in minutes can be found in the children’s section of the bookstore. Some titles with this handy device include: Disney’s 5 Minute Bedtime Stories by Catherine Hapka, A Treasury of Bedtime Stories by Linda Yeatman, and Three Minute Tales: Stories to Tell When Time Is Short by Margaret Read MacDonald.

On the weekend, when more time is available, scheduling a regular family game time every other weekend-as an important meeting-gives everyone something to look forward to on the day off. Finding and collecting board games can be fun for the whole family and offer a variety of entertainment that transcends the focus on gadgets, gizmos, and time in front of the television or computer screen common in this modern life. Parents can try such classics as Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, or branch out into new realms with the family board game with such emerging classics as Khet: The Laser Game—a blend of checkers and chess that involves laser light—or Cadoo: Family Fun—an inventive game which, as the name suggests, is fun for the whole family.

There are many ways to play an active role in family life, but parents do not need an extra hours in the day to do it. All it takes is a kind word here and there, a brief remembrance, or fifteen minutes to an hour set aside in time pockets throughout the week. Children are adaptable and appreciate the time that parents give them. The only requirement is that the parent demonstrates they care and are tuned in to their child through positive interaction. Parents should also remember that quality time and parenting in general are not about perfection but about persistence.

They say your kid is a reflection of you. Visit Gagazine.com to learn how to raise a better child by raising a better parent (YOU) first.

Alicia Keys On Forgiving Her Father. Says “If You Hold On To All This Anger The Only Person You’re Hurting Is You”.

*This is a reprint of a past post in honor of Father’s Day 2014*

Singer ALICIA KEYS decided to mend her relationship with her estranged father after her grandmother fell terminally ill in 2006.

 

The Fallin’ hitmaker was raised by her single mom Teresa after her dad Craig Cook left the family when Keys was just two years old, and she spent years resenting him.

 

But the star, who is now a mom to two-year-old son Egypt, had a change of heart when her beloved grandma died, and felt compelled to reach out to Cook to start afresh.

 

She tells Britain’s You magazine, “My father and I are fine now. I would say in the process of growing up you realize you’ve been holding on to anger. I was angry then and am sure I had the right to be angry, but if you hold on to all this anger the only person you’re hurting is you.

 

“The process started when my (paternal) grandmother became ill. You realize what’s important when you see a person you love dearly and you’re not going to have them for long. It was important to her. And I saw (my father’s) love for her. I realized he wasn’t an evil person so I said, ‘Can we start from this point on? Can we be friends? I can start to understand you and you can start to understand me.'”

Alicia & her mom

Source:10News.com

Are You Passing Co-Dependency On To Your Children?

By Darlene Lance, MFT

Research shows that codependency is learned in families and passed on generationally. It prevents the development of healthy, independently functioning individuals. When parents are codependent, codependency gets transmitted, unless they’re self-aware and consciously make an effort to respond to their children in healthy ways that counteract their codependent patterning. But because codependency is learned, it can be prevented and unlearned.

The problem is, like addiction, codependency is characterized by denial. This means you may not even be aware that you’re codependent and are unwittingly teaching it to your children, despite your best intentions. The most preventative steps you can take are to improve your self-esteem and communication. Some of the main symptoms of codependency are:

  1. Being overly focused on someone or something
  2. Low self-esteem
  3. Nonassertive communication
  4. Denying or devaluing needs, feelings, and wants
  5. Poor boundaries
  6. A need for control

Children learn who they are and how to identify, value, and communicate needs and feelings through interactions with their parents. Thus, how you communicate with your children is critical to the formation of their identity and to a large extent determines how secure their sense of self and self-esteem are. Here are traits of healthy families that allow children to develop into independent, functional adults:

  1. Free expression of thoughts, feelings, and observations
  2. Equality and fairness for all
  3. Healthy Communication
  4. Reasonable rules
  5. Nurturing and supportive
  6. Healthy boundaries
  7. Problem solving

As parents, here are seven key things you can do to ensure your children grow into independent adults:

1. Allow freedom of information.

One of the main characteristics of healthy families and organizations, even countries, is freedom to express thoughts and observations. Secrets and no-talk rules are common in dysfunctional families. For instance, forbidding mention of grandma’s limp or daddy’s drinking teaches children to be fearful and to doubt their perceptions and themselves. Children are naturally inquisitive about everything. This is healthy and should be encouraged, not squelched.

2. Show your children respect.

Showing respect means that you listen and take them seriously, which communicates that who they are and what they think and feel have worth and merit. You don’t have to agree with what they say, but listening to understand shows that you respect them and teaches them self-respect. Speak to your children with courtesy. Avoid criticism, which is destructive to self-esteem. Instead, praise the behavior you desire. You can set limits and explain negative consequences of behavior you want dislike without name-calling or criticizing, such as, “It makes me and others angry when you tie up the bathroom for half an hour. We’re all kept waiting,” instead of, “You’re selfish and inconsiderate to tie up the bathroom.” When you treat your child with respect, they will treat others with respect and expect the same in future relationships.

3. Accept your children’s feelings.

Many clients tell me that they weren’t allowed express anger, complain, feel sad, or even get excited. They learned to repress their feelings. This becomes problematic in their adult relationships and can lead to depression. With good intentions, often parents say, “Don’t feel sad, (or jealous, etc.)” or “Don’t raise your voice.” Allowing children to express their feelings provides a healthy outlet. Feelings needn’t be rational, nor do you have to “fix” them. Instead, comfort your children and let them know you love them, rather than try to talk them out of how they feel. Expressing feelings doesn’t mean that they should be free to act on them. Tommy can be angry at his sister, but it’s not okay to hit her.

4. Respect your children’s boundaries.

Respecting children’s thoughts and feelings is a way of respecting boundaries. Verbal abuse and attacks violate their boundaries, as does unwanted touch and sexual exposure or intimacy. This also includes tickling beyond a child’s comfort level. Additionally, children’s property, space, and privacy should be respected. Reading their mail or diary or talking to their friends behind their back are off-limits.

5. Allow children age-appropriate decisions, responsibility, and independence.

Codependents have problems making decisions and being interdependent in relationships. Children need support in learning how to problem-solve and make decisions. Parents usually err on one extreme or the other. Many children must take on adult responsibilities too young and never learn to receive or rely on anyone. Some children are controlled or pampered, become dependent and don’t learn to make their own choices, while others are given unlimited freedom without guidance. Opposite types often marry each other. They have an out-of-balance marriage, where one spouse takes care of the other, and both resent it.

Children resist control because they seek self-control. They naturally push for independence, which isn’t rebelliousness and should be encouraged. Age-appropriate limits teach them self-control. When they’re ready to test their wings, they need guidance to help them make their own decisions plus the freedom to make and learn from mistakes.

6. Have reasonable, predictable, humane rules and punishments.

Codependents grow up in homes where there are no rules or the rules are harsh and rigid, or inconsistent and arbitrary. Children need a safe, predictable, and fair environment. When rules and punishments are arbitrary, harsh, or inconsistent, instead of learning from mistakes, children become angry and anxious, and learn to distrust their parents, authority, and others. Rules should be explicit and consistent, and parents need to be united. Rather than base rules and punishments on emotions in the moment, think through what’s important and what is reasonably enforceable, which varies as children age and are more independent. Explain rules to older children, allow them to question you, and have good reasons to back up your decisions. Research has shown the physical punishment can lead to emotional problems in adulthood. The best punishments are reasonable, humane, and relate to the natural consequences of the wrong-doing.

7. Nurture your children.

You can’t give them too much love and understanding. This isn’t spoiling them. Some parent use gifts or not setting limits to show love, but this isn’t a substitute for empathy and affection, which are necessary for children to grow into confident, loving adults.

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and life coach with a broad range of experience, working with individuals and couples for twenty-four years. Her focus is on helping individuals overcome obstacles to leading fuller lives, and helping couples enhance their communication, intimacy, and passion.

Should You Put Your Husband Before Your Child? I Do.

By Heather Morgan Shott

Think I’m a selfish, terrible mother? Actually, the opposite is true.

“Are you and daddy getting divorced?”

I was four years old, sitting on the bathroom floor and chatting with my mom while she soaked in the tub, when I blurted out this question. “No, of course not!” she immediately responded. “Why would you think that?” I don’t remember what I said next, but somehow we moved on to a new topic.

Later I heard her whispering on the phone about what I’d said. She must have been thinking, How did my little girl, the one with the stay-at-home mom and Catholic upbringing, know about divorce?It’s not like my parents were screaming and slamming doors all the time. Their unhappiness wasn’t supposed to be obvious, especially not to a little girl. But somehow, even at that young age, I could sense that my parents were deeply unhappy in their marriage.

Turns out they did get divorced—four years later, right around my eighth birthday. The quietly hostile relationship that my parents had when they were married bloomed into an outwardly hostile one during the split, and it stayed that way for years after the divorce papers were signed. By the time my sister and I were pre-teens, our dad had remarried and pretty much vanished from our lives.

The whole thing—the divorce, our father deciding to go his own separate way—was incredibly sad and unfortunate, but it taught me an important lesson: It’s almost impossible to have a happy childhood if you have miserable parents.
 At some point I decided that if I were ever to get married and have kids I would do everything I could to have a happy marriage that lasted for the long haul…and if that wasn’t possible, then at least I would do my best to forge a positive relationship with my ex-husband for the sake of my kids.

Years later, I met an amazing man. I got married and we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this past June. We’re very happy, and because I want to stay happily married and give our three-year-old son the kind of joyful home I didn’t have while I was growing up, I put my marriage first. That’s right. My husband comes before anyone else in my life, including my beloved child.

Before anyone calls me a selfish, terrible mother, please let me explain what I mean by that: I think you’ll see that it’s not as harsh as it sounds. And, in fact, the priorities that we’ve set benefit everyone involved. Putting my marriage first means I’m protecting the relationship that’s central to Mason’s happy childhood; I’m making sure that Chris and I coexist happily despite the changes that we experienced in our relationship after our baby was born, particularly in those first few months (from the way that we needed to divert our attention and, at times, affections to this new little person in our lives to the mind-boggling lack of sleep that lasted for months and made us argue about silly little things like who forgot to buy more coffee when the last bag ran out).

Putting my marriage first does not mean neglecting my son; Chris and I are extremely involved parents. We both say constantly that Mason is the love of our lives. He’s the greatest thing we’ve ever done; we can’t imagine our lives without him. We love him infinity plus. So for Mason’s sake (and for ours), here’s how we make our marriage our top priority:

We plan child-free couple vacations. This isn’t something my husband and I do every year; in fact, we’ve only done it once so far, but we plan on taking more trips alone in the future. Our first vacation a deux took place when Mason was six months old. Too soon? No way. Chris and I needed to go somewhere and reconnect after my extremely difficult pregnancy (which included 30-weeks of morning sickness and extreme anxiety), so my mom graciously volunteered to come to New York to stay with him for five days. She insisted that we needed that time alone, even though I dreaded leaving the baby. And you know what? She was right. Going on that trip was the best thing we could have done for our marriage. We had sex, we got some much-needed rest and we had wonderful dinners together. By the time we returned to New York, we were a stronger, happier couple—and ready to take on whatever Mason dished out. Bring on those sleepless nights, baby: we can handle it!

We present a united front. This means we always have each other’s back, no matter what. When Chris needed to take a job that would keep him in another city five days a week, I supported him. When I told Chris in September that I needed to leave my nightmare job and do something else, he supported me, no further explanation needed. With Mason, it’s all about being on the same page at all times; we never try to become the favorite parent by caving in to what Mason wants versus what we believe is right. For example, I feel strongly that Mason needs to go to bed at 8 p.m. unless it’s a special occasion. Chris, on the other hand, would be fine with letting him stay up later…but he knows this issue is important to me, so he respects my wishes. We’re being consistent with our messaging to Mason so that he doesn’t get confused and so that he feels secure with a consistent routine—but more importantly we’re showing him that we’re united in the decisions that we make, as well as demonstrating unequivocal support and respect for each other.

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6 Steps To Help Working Mothers Find Work/Life Balance

By: Azarel Smallwood

The brass ring of being one of America’s millions of working mothers is finding that elusive work/life balance. Historically, women have been the ones responsible for keeping up the housework, making dinner, and raising the children. Today, despite changing gender expectations and more helpful spouses, it can still be quite overwhelming to achieve everything, every day. It is indeed possible for working mothers to be successful business women at the same time. All it takes is some planning, communication, and boundaries.

Step One: Organize And Prioritize Your Tasks

Do the dishes and the laundry. Get that spreadsheet finished. Take the kids to baseball practice and piano lessons. Send out that email before you forget. The number of tasks flying through working mothers’ heads is incredible! It’s no wonder you feel frazzled. Take an hour each week to plan and schedule the activities and expectations for the coming days. With a good day planner, you can set time specifically for work, family, and you time. Don’t forget to schedule break time in there, to recharge your mind and help refocus on the next thing on your list.

Step Two: Give Yourself A Break

You’re Supermom, and are doing your best at being a successful business woman. But when there is more than one goal to focus on, occasionally some things might not get done. And that’s okay! Explain the importance of your job to your family, and the importance of your family to your boss. While you might be holding yourself up to the level of perfection on every single task, there will come times when you need to accept that something is good enough and to move on. Communicate with your spouse, your children, and your boss when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Include them in your planning and time management, so that everyone is on the same page with expectations. And when you’re falling behind? Ask for help. No one will think less of you for it.

Step Three: Moms in Business Need To Set Boundaries

For successful business women, communication is key. When you’re also juggling a family, it’s even more important. Setting boundaries between work and home will help stop the two from bleeding into each other. The first boundary to set is between work people and your family. Make sure that work people can only contact you during certain hours, and outside of that, it has to wait until tomorrow. The same goes with your family: during scheduled work time, unless it’s an emergency, it can wait. The next boundary is to segregate your time. Hours spent at work are focused career time, whereas time at home is dedicated family time. The last boundary for working mothers is separating your work space. If you work in the home, designate a room for your office, and while you’re in there, it’s as if you’re not even home.

Step Four: Connect With Other Working Mothers

Sometimes, it feels like no one gets it. Do a bit of searching to find a network of like-minded working mothers, either online or in your neighborhood. Even if you can’t fit in attendance to an event, having the chance to connect with other working mothers, who are also trying to juggle being successful business women, will be a great help to your sanity. When we’re at our most frustrated, it’s comforting to realize that we’re not the only ones going through it. Groups and online communities such as these offer friendship, advice, play dates, and even business networking.

Step Five: Take Care Of YOU

When planning your week, plan at least an hour, twice per week, that is yours alone. This might be to get a pedicure, take a long bath, or have a glass of wine while reading a novel. A critical part of balancing being a mother and a successful business woman is time to unwind. There may be other things that you could be doing, and it may seem counter-productive. However, working mothers need time where they are not a mother, not a business woman, but just themselves.

Step Six: Family Still (And Always) Comes First

Make your family time non-negotiable. When there is a struggle between choosing family or work, you can always make your family your number one priority. If you have a boss, express the importance of your family, and that you will need to be available for emergencies. If you work for yourself, or from your home, it can be incredibly difficult to know when to shut down and stop working. With proper planning and time management, as well as a supportive family and boss, you should be able to feel fulfilled as part of both groups: working mothers and successful business women.

Frustrated after trying to get her novel published, Tressa “Azarel” Smallwood took matters into her own hands and began her own publishing company, Life Changing Books. With 60 titles and 30 authors published, she now helps turn working mothers into authors and successful business women.

 

Rituals Have A Lasting Impact On You And Your Family

It’s amazing what can happen when you plant a seed of positivity and water it.  In this video we asked our son a simple question, “Where is God?” and we were pleasantly surprised by the answer we received.  His answer was indicative of the work and perspective we give to all of our children.  His answer served as a glaring reminder that there is power in affirmation, positivity, intention, and ritual.  Check out the video and let us know what you think.

 

14 Easy Ways To Make Mommy Time With The Kids Less Overwhelming & Way More Fun

By Michelle Jayne

At 36 years old I fell pregnant and that was when my whole life changed. I went from being a successful computer applications specialist , party and dancing girl, to a full time wife, mother, task master, shopper, health nut, trainer, household manager, business owner, cook and baker, just to name a few. Basically, it was motherhood and mothering, and to me, it was tough.

Although happy about my new little one, and determined to be the best mom ever, by the time the first year had passed I felt like I had aged 25 years. Although busy as heck, I was also bored, fatigued, fed up, it seemed like I was never having any fun. I missed the nights of dancing, partying, staying out late and never having to worry about responsibilities at home. I missed the little freedoms that people without kids take for granted – but most of all, I missed myself and who I used to be. The idea that I was responsible for a little life made me stressed out and often times depressed at the thought of doing it all wrong. Nevertheless, I wanted to find a way to laugh everyday like I used to when out with my friends and dancing, as apposed to being a constant task master and constantly advising what to do and what not to do and how to do this or that.

One day, while chatting to a friend, who seemed to have it all together, I got such a shock when she said to me, “I love my kids, but there has to be more to my life then this or I am going to lose my head!” She and I both agreed that the days for us lacked fun and excitement and although we were proud of our developed motherhood skills, and proud of the job we were doing, all the more reason we deserved to have some fun in the midst of everyday mothering.

Then it occurred to me that although grown up fun doesn’t usually mix with kiddie fun, I could still find ways of putting a little craziness into the day that would leave lasting memories for the family, make me laugh, and above all else, feel alive.

Here are some of the crazy, fun, out of the ordinary things I have done with my kids to add laughter, smiles, and memories, and have given me a sense of fun ever day. They also make for great stories to tell friends and family and have added value and life to my journey as a mom.

1. Feeling tired and just want to put your feet up for 5 minutes? How about doing it at the beauty salon? Give your child a brush, hair clips and a mirror and let them do your hair. Most kids love this and it also gives mom a chance to put her feet up and relax for a while.

2. Need your child to relax, not be so hyper and chatty? Give them a baby massage. This massage benefits child and parent. Follow the massage with a cup of herbal baby tea and honey. This also offers your child health benefits and for mom it offers a quiet, calm household for at least a little while. You will love it when afterward your child cuddles close to you and you can smell the essence of the massage oil you used and the atmosphere in the house.

3. At the end of year, take a family photo and choose a theme. Everyone has to dress up to match the theme. Have one nice photo taken and one silly one. Each year when you hang the new photos, you and you kids can laugh and remember things that took place when you took the previous picture. A useful accessory to motherhood is the ability to take captivating, skillful pictures.

4. Want your hubby to know just how hard your job of mothering is? Switch roles! You are sure to come out of it with a big prize when he sees what you have to deal with and how gracefully you do it everyday. Take photographs of him and his facial expressions while he is struggling through the simplest things, or when the kids throw food on him, or when he looks like he can’t stand for another minute. When he puts the kids to bed, take one last photo of him. Print the photos and put them in a special book to show your kids and share with friends – trust me, it’s hilarious!

5. Barney, Sprout channel, Sesame Street? – Blah! Turn your kids on to Bob Marley, Whodini, or Jill Scott. Let them move and groove to the music. Give each one a present for doing a dance show for you. Take pictures for you and the kids to laugh at later. You will marvel at your mothering when you see how not only adorable they are but how their little bodies are so uncoordinated and how they move so adorably. You will have a smile on your face for hours and your child is sure to come up with a funny dance move that you can imitate and make them laugh. Not to mention this is great exercise for the kids.

6. Go the movies – no baby sitter necessary! Take your baby to the movies. (Infants love the dark, and loud trailers make them snooze immediately….. usuallu) Munch on your goodies in peace and enjoy the flick – without the fifty million interruptions!

7. Let them help you escape. Let your kids be the excuse to do the things you want to do, like hopping out for a manicure or pedicure, having an unusually junky meal for dinner, or going to an amusement park. Use your kids as an excuse for not doing things you don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing. Believe me, there are perks to motherhood and you deserve to use them!

8. Every Mother’s Day, have a picture taken with your kids. Store the pictures and the keep sakes from your kids in a nice box (let your kids decorate it and gain some time for yourself in the process). Every year visit the box and see how much your kids have grown and how much their crafts, coloring, writing, and drawing skills have improved.

9. Give your kids quiet time every day. Teach your kids to play independently with books, crayons, blocks, and music. These are just a few healthy ideas. When your children learn to play on their own in frees mom up to get tasks done in a reasonable amount of time, without all the interruptions. It also gives mom an opportunity to have a chat with a friend on the phone, which I am sure you will all agree would be a nice piece of grown up time. It is also very beneficial for your kids.

10. PJ Day is one of my favorites! The kids, well, lets just say they wish everyday was PJ day. Mom and kids hang out in their PJ’s all day. Matching PJ’s are extra fun! Eat your favorite foods and watch your favorite movies. Kids can watch their movies on a laptop while mom watches hers on the TV. Lay out drinks and snacks so they won’t disturb you for these things.

11. Star Gaze the night away. Tent up in your backyard with a radio, s’mores and other great camp out food and drink. Use it as your reading room or to star gaze. Kids can star gaze and play while mom reads in the tent.

12. Do you have a house fairy? No! Well, you had better put one in place as soon as possible. Invent a house fairy, give her a cool name and tell the kids she is always watching them and keeping track of all their good deeds and naughty means.

13. When your child falls asleep at night. Lay next to him and absorb his sweet baby smell and listen to him breath. This experience will relax you, and will add one of the warmest memories to your collection of motherhood.

14. The Laugh Master Game. Have fun, be a kid, be a little crazy and make them laugh. It’s contagious and you will soon all be laughing together. Embrace their laughter, their smiles, their funny faces, and their out of breath flops when they are pooped out from laughing. My little one is pooped out after this and usually falls asleep just after dinner.

Motherhood is a wonderful part of life but requires that we constantly give of ourselves. Learning to find fun and laughter in the things we do and the ability to laugh when we don’t feel like it is a gift worth giving yourself. It makes us all the more better at what we do – for ourselves and our kids.

Michelle Jayne (AKA The Parent Fairy) has 22 years parenting experience, with a teenager and preschooler under her wings and enjoys sharing what she’s learning along the way.

My Husband Is A Pedophile And I Don’t Know If I Should Stay Or Go

Dear Ayize and Ayana I am writing to ask your opinion of my situation.I married a man after only 2weeks after meeeting him I know big mistake. Well now after 16 months with him needless to say the marriage has fallen apart essentially. I now have no choice but to stay here or live on the street w my shool age child., as a homeless person. This may be a better choice because
I believe he is sexually involved w his 12 yr old dtr, and he may be trying to influence my grand son towards homosexuality. I know this sounds horrendous but if I there is no shelter available how can I justify leaving getting into a worse situation (ie being homeless and unemployed) thank u. only staying  for comfort sake am I wrong, ? I need to stop playing right.

Don’t Let Your Teen Destroy Your Marriage

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy. D,

Whereas most people are warned that the blessed event of a new baby may challenge the romance in their marriage – not enough warning is given to parents of teens. Lulled by the relative calm of the school age years, they find themselves suddenly embroiled in the challenging journey of adolescence which extends anywhere from age 12 to 18 years.

Notwithstanding the love parents have for their kids and for each other, most parents will agree that the teen years can stress even the strongest of marriages. Why?

A close look suggests that the very developmental tasks that teens need to negotiate under the broad heading of “ Identity vs. Role Confusion” call into question the stability, predictability, authority, intelligence, sleep and even sexual patterns of parents.

A Saturday night spent nervously waiting up for your teen, while blaming each other for being too lax or too rigid rarely sets the mood for romance!

That said, it is important to consider that raising a teen does not have to equate to ruining a marriage. In fact, it is the last thing you want and the very last thing they need!

 Three Guiding Principles:

There are three Guiding Principles that may help you and your teen on this journey: Balance, Communication and Connection.

What makes them effective is that they not only help adolescents deal with the developmental tasks that transition them to adulthood; they are the same principles that help partners strengthen their own relationships.

Balance

Teens Struggle with Balance

Basic to the challenges and chaos of adolescence—most teens have trouble with balancing everything from emotions, to friends, to school assignments.

  • Issues are presented in life or death terms.
  • People are loved or hated within a short span of time.
  • Actions are rarely considered in terms of consequences
  • Independence is professed while dependency demanded.
  • The world revolves around their lives.
  • Ever changing versions of how they look, what they believe, what they eat, and what they need leave little room for negotiation.

Parents Can Strike a Balance

  • Given history, gender, and personality, it is not unusual for parents to become seduced by their teens or polarized into extreme positions.

Why can’t I drive with my friends to Florida—Dad trusts my driving!

  • It may actually be an advantage that you see things differently if you can use different perspectives as points of information to help strike a balance.
  • Rather than going along with something you think is dangerous, or putting your partner down to align with the teen, try being authentic and respectful of each other’s opinion. Clarify the situation from both of your perspectives and from your teen’s point of view rather than fight over the solutions. It sets the stage for collaborative problem solving and often finding a middle ground.

“ You are right Dad thinks you are a good driver.  Let’s talk more about Spring Break and what you were thinking.”

Mutual Feedback Prevents Over-Parenting

  • An important but difficult balance for parents is the ability, as psychologist Brooke Feeney suggests, to restrain the need to help until the teen needs it–to support rather than substitute for a teen’s efforts.

Why can’t you let your daughter find her own job?”

  • When parents trust each other to give and take feedback, they can often avoid “ helicopter parenting” which hurts rather than helps. Working together to be more effective not only enhances your view of each other; it enhances the competence of your teen.

“ Mom and I are both eager to help, but we really want to know what you have in mind.”

Their Life vs. Your Life

  • Some parents are so enthralled with their teen and his/her activities, friends, and achievements, they abandon a personal interest in self and their relationship to become the 24/7-support team and audience to their child.
  • Some parents are so worried by the problems their teen seems to have–be it academic, social, emotional—that they abdicate their role as partner to be the vigilant parent.
  • When love, support or even concern for a teen bankrupt a marriage, everyone loses. The parents lose their bond and its potential for support and refueling and the teen loses the model of a vital adult relationship.
  • Given that the challenges of adolescence often are underscored by a teen’s narcissistic notion that the world revolves around them, it is to their advantage to realize that you have a life, needs and a relationship apart from them.

Communication

The Language of Teens

  • Anyone who has parented teens knows that communication can get challenging.
  • If you have raised girls you know that most issues are wrapped up and vocalized as high drama. Asking someone to get off the phone to help with dinner can invite hysteria much less avoidance of the request.
  • If you have raised boys then you are more accustomed to feeling like you are living with CIA agents. If you ask too much or they reveal too much—they may have to kill you.
  • Add the communication of social media in cell phones, emails, texting, etc. and gender differences are eclipsed. The only thing that matters is constant communication—with peers.

The Language of Parents

  • In face of this, some parents never stop talking to their teen and others shut down. Reflecting their stress, the parents’ communication with each other often becomes colored by criticism of each other.

“ No wonder he doesn’t listen – you never stop yelling at him.”

“ So she lied again and you still saying nothing to her?”

  • Parents can benefit from recognizing that criticizing each other can disqualify both in the eyes of a teen.
  • As strange as it may seen, it is better for a teen to hear parents say that they need his/her help to really speak about the issue. It brings the parents into the same place, even if they have different styles and opinions, and sends the teen the message that they all need to communicate.
  • Parent and teen collaboration on how to balance social mediais invaluable. Despite resistance, if parents hang in, model and create a family plan like shutting phones off during a shared meal; charging all phones during the middle of the night; telling teens that they can blame the parents when friends ask why they didn’t respond at 3Am-they will find that many teens are actually relieved.
  • Another important communication dynamic for parents with teens and with each other is positive communication. There are some teens and partners who never stop hearing what they are doing wrong. There is no motivation to listen if listening equates to a negative view of self.
  • It is valuable to communicate as “ people” not just as worried parents to each other and to your teen. Teens should hear about your lives and even be asked for their advice or opinion. They should observe their parents enjoying a conversation together about something other than them!!!

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It Hurts To Walk But It’s Easier When You Hold My Hand

The past two weeks have been both physically and emotionally draining.  The Ma’at’s are pooped.  But tired and all…we’re never to tired to give thanks.  About 10 years ago we learned a chant…”Aum aim duau Sebek” which loosely translated means Thank you God for the hard things because the hard things make me stronger.  Yall, we’ve definitely experienced some hard things with our sons’ recent surgery. But guess what….Asante has been strong, continues to be strong, and is embracing building his strength as he continues his journey toward healing.  Check out this video when you get a sec….watch our son walk for the first time post surgery.  We love you Asante Duah Ma’at.