Why Parenting Can See So Hard
Susie E. Caron (c) 5/20/16
Nobody told you it was going to be this hard – parenting – raising good kids.
Remember when you discovered that you were going to become a Mommy or Daddy? Remember how you felt - full of hope that you & your children would enjoy each other. You just knew they would grow up to remember how good you were to them and love you forever.
What happened after they reached ages 3, 4, and up? Were your hopes and dreams shattered? I hope not. However, if you are feeling discouraged, I’m about to help you.
Here’s the scoop: It’s not your fault and it’s not their fault either. You and your children may not get along from time to time because you are each under the influence of your own dilemmas. At those times it looks like you are ‘fighting’ each other, but each child and parent is also dealing with their own, unconscious, internal conflict. This is what makes parenting so hard and causes you a lot of stress and confusion. However, understanding how these conflicts influence you and your kids can help you parent with less stress.
Let me clear this up for you.
Here’s the parent’s conflict:
You want your kids to grow up while you secretly wish they could stay yours forever.
Here’s the child’s conflict.
Children are born with two strong driving forces: the drive to grow, expand and conquer, and the need to be protected.
Now, because you are an adult, you can handle your conflicted feelings. Just recognizing that they exist helps. It’s equally important for you to understand your children’s conflict and how that influences their behaviors. Then you will be less likely to take most of their resistance personally and parent them without feeling guilty. (It is futile to explain their dilemma to them. They can’t understand it and as I will explain below, they will still be driven.) However, when you understand, it can make parenting them easier for you.
Here’s what’s going on inside your kids.
As I mentioned, children are born equipped with two, strong, conflicting, instinctive drives: First to grow and second to be protected.
Drive #1: To Grow
The instinct to grow drives them to expand, grow, challenge you and everything they encounter. It’s not conscious or intentional. It’s built into their DNA and becomes their “Modus Operandi”. (MO). They continually test their abilities. They grow bigger physically. They take over more space in their environment. They take things apart and stick things into other things. They make messes, and also accomplish many wonderful things. They instinctively want to figure out and conquer everything. They reach, grab, crawl, sit, stand, walk, ride bikes and drive cars. However, while they're doing all this, they challenge you, everything and everyone to test themselves, their strength and understanding of the world.
This drive never diminishes. It continues to grow stronger with each passing year. In fact
Their drive to expand, grow and challenge becomes more dominant over time. That’s how they become adults, go to college, join the military, get jobs and marry. However, when this drive is active in childhood, they resist everything you do. They act as though you are interfering with their freedoms. In fact, most kids grow up holding onto a secret fantasy - that they really don’t need you and they could admit it, their motto would be, “Feed me and get out of my way.” This is why you can feel challenged, pushed, and just plain tired.
Whenever they seem to fight you they are often struggling against their second drive – to be protected.
Drive #2: To be Protected
The instinctive need to be protected, functions to keep children closely tied to the parent to help insure survival. Kids instinctively know they are dependent on you for their care and safety. This need is the strongest at birth and diminishes over time. You can see kids driven by this when they are really tired, struggling with friends, school, whining, whimpering and behaving as though suddenly they regressed into more babyish behavior. When their need for you to take care of them erupts in later childhood, they fuss about doing chores, completing homework or taking care of other responsibilities for which they are entirely capable. This dependency is adorable while they are infants and babies. However, it is upsetting to parents who wonder things like “Will they ever grow up?” and “What am I doing wrong?” or worse yet, “Has something horrible happened to my child to make him/her act this way.”
So, what makes raising kids hard?
As a parent, you want your kids to grow but also to be happy. At times you probably feel conflicted, confused or worried about how to raise your children. It’s difficult to be a good parent and know what to do. That’s your struggle.
Kids struggle too. They don’t come into your home dreaming of blissful family life with you. They are driven by the need to grow, which gets stronger, and the need to be protected which gets weaker. They want to grow up, leave home, do their thing, but at the same time they want to be babied and kept safe.
These are the reasons for their resistances and why parenting sees so hard.
There isn’t an easy solution. However, now that you understand your own conflicted feelings and how your kids unconsciously struggle with two opposing forces within, it can be a bit easier for you to 'parent' them. It's your right and responsibility. You can make good decisions, discipline them, comfort them, and do all the things you know you want to do to help them on their way to maturity. Now you can do it all without taking their thoughts (words) feelings and behaviors personally.
Parenting is a job, a great job and one for which only you are well equipped to do with your children. Take it seriously, but at the same time have fun and enjoy your kids as much as you possibly can. When they resist, decide whether it's time to comfort or to be 'matter of fact' and say something like "This is how life works, so get on with it."
Recognize it’s as difficult to be a kid as it is to be a parent. So when the kids push you or pull you, resist you or want babied, don’t take it personally or feel guilty about the decisions you make. Just do your best for them and you will be the best parent you can be. Who knows maybe by the time they turn 32, they’ll even let you know that you were and continue to be the best parent ever.
Twee’ means you and me,
Working to raise good kids.
Essential Safety Games To Play With Preschoolers
Susie E. Caron 5/6/16*
I posted this blog first in *2014, but it’s so important to keep kids safe, that I re-post it at least once each year.
If you have young children play these three games with them until you are sure their responses become automatic. Play each game at least 3 times the first week you introduce them. Then repeat occasionally just to ensure their responses.
Children need to play! Did you know that games also benefit their development?
Playing these 3 games with your young children may also help you keep them safe.
Everyone enjoys playing Peek-A-Boo with babies because it makes everyone laugh. This also helps to generate your baby's feelings of health and safety, but there are more reasons.
Peek-A-Boo builds your baby's awareness that objects continue to exist in their environment, even when they cannot see them. This includes YOU. This awareness is also the foundation for the next two safety-based games for young children. So go ahead! Play Peek-A-Boo with baby.
2. Quick! Run to Mommy (or Daddy) Game*
In this game you teach your child to quickly run to you! (Note: see * below for suggested titles to call this game with your child.)
If you make your child's "Run to Mommy" response automatic and the child is rewarded for running fast to you, your child will be more likely to respond quickly, in situations that could be dangerous. For example: You can use this when your child gets out of sight in the grocery store.
How to teach Danger! - Run to Mommy!
I learned this game from a friend. She taught her toddler that when she said certain words,
"Poo Bear", he was to respond, "Tigger too!" and he would immediately run to her to be safe.
As you practice at home, with a toddler, it's best to offer a treat, like stickers, or a small cracker, for running back to you. This makes the game more fun and rewarding for the toddler to play correctly and to run fast!
Consistently using key words in this game can help keep your child safe. Your child's words help you to locate him/her. Your child's words also triggers action: running to you quickly.
*NOTE: If you don't like the words my friend used, you and your child can come up with your own words and responses. Pergaps you could select words from your child's favorite Twee' book. You could say "Twee' Means" and the child says "You and Me!" and returns to you immediately. [I couldn't help myself.]
3. Automatic - Hide and Go Seek
In this game you must find your hidden child.
Note: Play this game ONLY AFTER your toddler has a rapid response to Run to Mommy (or Daddy etc.). Then play Automatic - Hide and Go Seek often.
Reasons to play:
When children actually become lost, they FREEZE while they LISTEN for you to come and find them. The result is they don't know to call out to you, even if they hear you searching nearby. You child doesn't realize that you cannot see him all the time. He also doesn't realize that if you cannot see him, you won't be able to find him unless he calls out to you.
How to teach Automatic - Hide and Go Seek.
Tell you child, " I can see you most of the time. However, when you hide behind a couch, chair or in another room, I cannot see you.You are very important to me, so I always want to find you. So when I can't easily see you, I will say "Where Are You?" then I want you to call out "Here I am." Practice this in the house at first. Remember to reward your child as soon as you find him/her.
After you've practiced for a few minutes a day, over a few days, then tell your child, "Now that I know you will say 'Here I am!' to help me find you, I will let you hide longer. Remember when I say "Where are you?" I want you to yell out nice and loud "Here I am!"
Play these games with you children to instill some safety skills, for a little peace of mind and always share some fun!
I want to read your thoughts about this post, so leave me a note below.
Remember Twee' means You and Me,
Playing games with young children for safety.
‘Safety Seeds’ to Plant In Your Children
Susie E. Caron © 4/29/16
"You’ve Got To Talk About It Now!" That's what I told a young mother. She was worried about her little ones growing up in a world full of temptation to do drugs, and other things. However, she said she 'didn't want to scare them too soon.'
So I explained why she needed to talk with her kids no matter how young or old, and for as long as she can about the tough things like drugs, alcohol, sex, to keep them safe. I gave her some guidelines and examples and she seemed ready to try.
The problem is
that most parents wait until it is either too late, or their kids have already become confused by their culture of peers who think “it’s all good.” I know that no one wants to bring up these tough subjects, especially with toddlers and preschoolers. No one wants to 'scare' their children. So parents put it off, and put it off.
You know that you ‘should’ be talking with them, but maybe you put it off because you don’t know what to say.
Let me help you with that.
Even at the youngest ages you can talk about safety in happy, loving ways that make kids 'want' to keep themselves safe. This isn't fool proof, but it's far better than doing nothing. It worked for me and my children and for many others.
This week I’ll teach you some positive ways to plant' safety seeds' to help them stay away from drugs and alcohol, Then I’ll continue over the next few weeks to help you teach them how they can keep their bodies safe from other things.
Kid's are exposed to drugs and alcohol at every age.
Today’s children are ‘growing up’ way too fast. While many of them still believe in Santa Clause, they are exposed to drugs, alcohol use, sex and abuse. It’s all too much for them. Developmentally they cannot process and make wise decisions for themselves about these things, without your help.
You may not want to bring these subjects up at all. However, I guarantee that your kids are being exposed, often as young as preschool ages. That’s why it’s imperative that you begin to plant healthy 'safety seeds' in them now, especially in your babies.
During your children’s first 5 years, what you say really sounds like ‘gospel’. From age 6 years on up, little by little, you begin to lose your power of persuasion. However, it’s never too late to begin. So use these ideas and google for others and begin today to plant safety seeds about ‘staying safe.’
How do you plant seeds so your kids will stay away from drugs and alcohol.
The best way is to introduce the concept of staying safe in very positive ways, no matter what the topic. To do that you ‘hook’ safety words with happy experiences and good feelings.
For example, while diapering your wiggling, giggling child, you can plant safety seeds by say things like, ”You are my sweetie and Mommy (Daddy) will keep you safe and I want you to stay safe.”
That’s not too young to begin, because even before your child mentally understands, the words you say, will be planted in memory along with all the good feelings that come from wiggling, giggling, and smiling between the two of you.
This is what you seek: Good feelings connected to the words ‘stay safe.’
If your child is preschool age then you can be more specific. For example: While eating with your child, preferably one of their favorite foods, you can smile broadly at her and say, “I’m so happy to see you love good food and I know you’ll never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Once again you’ve coupled a happy feeling experience with seed words like ‘good food’ and 'not putting anything into her body that could hurt her'. Of course, your child won’t know what you mean, and may look at you funny and think about food she doesn’t like, but that’ okay. Say this from time to time, but don’t overdo it. Just stay positive and plant the seeds.
With Elementary School Children.
What if your child is already elementary school age? From 6-10 children really like to feel important. So if you suggest to your child “We have something very important to talk about after lunch today.” That peaks curiosity and motivates the desire to find out what this is about. Again you’ll want to make lunch pleasant and offer something your child really likes. Then stay at the table together and fold your hands like this is really important and serious (because it is).
Now say something like, “I’m so glad that we can talk about this because I want to keep you safe and I want you to be safe always. Maybe you’ve heard about people putting things into their bodies that could hurt them. They could be eating them, swallowing them, and so on. I just wanted to make sure that you are always safe and would never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Watch their eyes and body language.
If they smile and make eye contact with you, things are probably good at the moment. Ask a few questions and repeat, “I’m glad you’ll never put anything in your body that could hurt you.” Then let them go play. Stay vigilant about their play and sleep behaviors, because that’s what will change if they become exposed. Have this conversation again from time to time to let them know they can talk with you about anything.
If they get fidgety or avoid eye contact with you then ask, “Do you know anyone who has been doing something that could hurt them?’ Be caring and non- accusatory and just listen. Encourage them to tell you more by saying, “No matter what you tell me I want to keep you safe and I won’t be mad at you because you trust me.” They may tell you about someone else, and that may be true, but it could also be about themselves, even though they put it out to you as if it was ‘a friend.’
However, this is not the time to challenge their honesty. Continue to be caring and listen. Ask them questions, “Do you think is a good idea?” and say things like “Wow, I’m worried that is hurting their bodies.” Eventually, your kids may tell you if they have been exposed or have tried something themselves. When they do reveal something, thank them for trusting you and for telling you. Tell them you want to help keep them safe always. Next you can work on a plan together, or tell them you need to think about how you can help. Then you’ll talk some more with them about this.
If you discover something that is scary, concerning, or you have questions about what to do, please contact your medical doctor and mental health professional for guidance.
These conversations also apply to your teenagers. However, if you think your teens are getting involved in substance abuse. Don’t wait, thinking, “It’s a stage and it will pass.” Talk with your medical doctor and mental health professional and get whatever help is needed for you and for your teenager.
Start planting safety seeds in your children today.
I’m aware that this is not what every parent wants to discuss with their children. But hopefully I’ve given you some idea how you can start today to plant some positive 'safety seeds' that will help keep your kids away from drugs and alcohol and continue to build their relationship and trust in you. That is what really counts.
Thank you for reading this important article. Tell me what you think about this topic in the comments below.
Twee’ means you and me
Planting 'Safety Seeds' in Our Kids
Little Red Steps
Susie E. Caron © 4/21/16
I was not yet 3 years old when I painted the steps. However, I remember like it was yesterday.
We lived in a second floor apartment with outdoor steps to the ground. In my memory, I can see myself in short coveralls and bare feet, inching down the wooden stairs. I’d been told to ‘go play outdoors’. (Things were different in 1952.) To my surprise, about ¾ of the way down, I came upon an open can of red paint and a big wide brush. I figured that our landlord was going to paint the stairs, so I took the opportunity to help him.
While I struggled to manage that big, big, brush, which became very heavy when I dipped it into the paint, the Landlord arrived at the foot of the steps.
“Oh no, little lady,” he said, as he took the now sticky brush from my red stained hands. He carefully balanced the brush on the edge of the can. Then he took my clean hand into his, and helped me climb back up the stairs. “Your Mother is not going to be too happy about this.” He said, shaking his head.
She wasn’t. When she arrived to the other side of our screened in, green, wooden door. She smiled weakly at him and told him thank you, but immediately began scolding me.
She commanded me to ‘stand right there, young lady,’ and added ‘don’t you move.’ Suddenly afraid, I wanted to bolt down those steps, but I stayed rooted to the spot and began to cry. In a moment, she returned, still yelling at me, with rags and a can of something that smelled so bad it stung my nose as she opened it.
On our open deck, she roughly stripped me of my short coveralls and Tee- shirt. Next she plopped me upright into the small, empty, wading pool. Apparently I was a total mess, and the worst was yet to come.
Mother began scrubbing me; my legs and feet, hands and arms, face, head and neck with a rag dipped in turpentine. (Back then there was only toxic oil based paints, so she had to remove it with turpentine.)
She was rough and she kept yelling at me about paint, and money, and you'll be sorry and other scary things that an almost 3 year old could never understand. I remember that I was terrified. My mother was very angry and my skin stung from the turpentine and from the harsh rubbing it took to get it off. I remember when she finished that, she filled the small pool with the hose and commanded me to stay while she bathed me in the cold water, along with some soap. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.
Please note: I was not abused. My mother did what she had to do to get me cleaned up. If she hadn’t, I could have suffered lead poisoning or even died. I am retelling this story as I perceived it in my child’s mind, because I want to illustrate how it affected me then and what I gained from that experience.
As I grew up I recognized that my Landlord and my Mother had reacted very differently.
Every time I recalled that event, I wondered “Why?”, "Why did the Landlord and my mother react differently"?
I was the same child. The steps were the same steps. The paint was the same red paint.
(Except that it wasn't. I was informed that it was actually green paint, but I believe that it changed in my mind because my legs and arms stayed red for quite a while after the scrubbing.)
Anyway, the only thing that was truly different were the reactions of my Landlord and my Mother. They had each responded in different ways to my behavior.
As a result of my experiences, studies, and work with children and families I've uncovered some basic truths.
Adults don’t understand children and children don’t speak ‘adult’.
Adults can choose how they respond or react to children’s behaviors.
At almost 3 years of age, I was already a person who wanted ‘to help people.’
I still do.
That’s why I write parenting articles and podcasts. I really want to help you understand your kids better, connect with them, gain their cooperation and have more fun.
That’s also why I write picture books for adults to read with their children. I want to illustrate how children think, how their perception of their world develops, and encourage you to talk about these important things with them. You can find them at SusieCaronOnAmazon.com
Do you like what I’m sharing? Is this helpful? Give me an idea what issues you struggle with and I’ll answer you. Just email me: email@example.com
Remember, Twee’ means you and me
Choosing wisely how to respond to children
Don't Paint the Children
Susie E. Caron © 4/15/16
Write, Ride, Paint!
Yep. That's what I'm doing from now through the summer months. All winter long I write blogs, podcasts and work on the books I'd like to publish. Come spring I am chomping at the bit, just to get out and ride my horse Apple. However, recently I've also rekindled a passion I had acquired earlier in my life: I love to paint.
Currently, I'm painting some small items that will become Christmas gifts. I feel happy about these because I hope they will give their recipients some pleasure. However, I am learning how funny paint, canvas and brush can be.
Paint, for example, has its own mind and will often behave in unusual or unexpected ways as I lay brush to canvas. Sometimes, it's dry and goes on thick. Sometimes the tiny brush has hidden extra water in its housing and spills out when I least expect it. Sometimes it blends very nicely and sometimes it simply misbehaves. But I love it no matter what.
Brushes? Don't get me started on brushes. Why, just this morning I was telling my husband how I remembered that brushes each have their own personality. So, I am learning how to get along with each and every one, even the ornery ones.
This reminds me of the kids I've known. I never met a kid I didn't like. They're a lot like paint and brushes. Like paint, each child has a way of going about day to day life. Like brushes, each one has his or her own distinctive personality.
In my experience, (and life-long career) I've discovered that raising (or working with) children is a lot like applying paint to canvas with a bush. When I paint I can guide but I cannot change how each brush leaves its own distinctive - unique marks. I think it's important for parents to recognize that sometimes they're painting their children rather than letting their children paint.
Teaching children is necessary. Without it children, like wet paint, run wild all over the place.
However, attempts to make them into personalities of our own choosing, does them unnecessary harm.
As parents we must guide (teach) our children while at the same time, strive to create a life in which we encourage the development of each child's unique personality. This is more like teaching them to paint. However, to unleash their creative natures, they need something more.
Children require encouragement in order to develop their uniquely individual personalities.
Without your encouragement and support, children can develop damaged self-concepts. They can feel like they were painted with ugly colors or the wrong sized brush.
So, as parents, we must be certain to not paint our children. Instead we need to teach them how to use paint and brushes, but then we must admire, encourage and support their artistic expressions.
Do you paint with your children? That's a good way to support them. What do you do to support and encourage each of your children so they develop and express their own wonderful personalities?
Twee’ means you and me
Teaching children , then letting them paint.
Get “Real” With Your Kids
Susie Caron © 4/1/16
Are you for real? I mean, are you authentic with your kids. Why is this important? Why do you need to be upfront and honest with them? Let me explain and give you a few tips about getting real with them in age appropriate ways.
First let’s get “real.”
Someone said, “You may as well be you, because everyone else is taken”. That applies to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors even when you are with your kids. Just be yourself! Yes, you are the parent. Yes, you have responsibilities of your own to manage. And all of this, while at the same time, you are responsible to do your very best job of raising your children. But you still need to be really you and honest with your kids for some very good reasons.
What are two main reasons you need to be real, (upfront, honest, authentic, matter of fact) with your kids?
First, when you aren’t being real with them they think something scary is going on and it’s their fault.
That’s because Kids have invisible ‘antenna ’, that come out when they feel like you are keeping something from them.
If you and your spouse aren’t getting along, they feel it.
If something is going on in the extended family that you don’t want to talk about they feel it.
If you don’t really like your kids, (even though you love them) they feel it.
However, they don’t interpret these ‘feelings’ correctly.
Nope! This ‘feeling’ settles in the pit of kid’s tummies and they translate that to mean these:
Right now you may be wondering, “Well, what they think is certainly better that the awful thing I’m keeping from them. Isn’t it my job to decide what and when to tell them?” Of course it is, and those are very important parenting decision. However, you can still find ways to be ‘real’ and talk with them about something you are ‘carrying’ that will dispel their personal fears.
Here’s an example of something I used that helped our kids.
Whenever my husband and I argued about anything, and raised our voices, the kids flew into wherever we stood. As soon as they appeared, wide eyed, and looking a little worried, I’d turned physically toward them, made eye contact, lowered my voice and said,
“We’re okay and you’re okay. This argument isn’t about you. We are arguing over an adult thing. But you are okay and we are okay. So, you can go back to what you were doing.”
Most of the time, that’s all it took. Sometimes, if they’d just heard a friend’s parents were getting a divorce, I’d add this:
“And we are not getting a divorce, so you can go back to what you were doing.”
After I said those words, they’d shrug their shoulders and run off to resume their activities again.
Here’s another example: If my little ones saw me crying, really hard I’d keep crying, but I’d offer a reassuring hug and say,
“I’m crying because I’m having ‘adult sad today’. You’re okay and I’m okay, I just need to feel my feelings right now.” Often I’d get a hug back, and sometimes one child or another might stay for a while with me. However, pretty soon they realized I was ‘doing my thing’ and ‘it wasn’t about them’ and they ‘could just go back to playing.’ Of course, if they were older I’d tell them a bit more.
This bring us to the second very important reason you’ll want to find ways to talk about the difficult things that distract you, and keep you from ‘getting real.’
Here's the second reason to 'get real.'
Kids read your inauthenticity as ‘secret keeping’ and when it happens often enough,they stop trusting you. Then, later they’ll keep things from you.You can imagine how dangerous that could be. So you need to be real with them in age appropriate ways.
Here are some hints for how to do that.
Tell the little ones, something like what I used above: 'that you’re having adult feelings but that they are okay and so on.'
Tell school aged children a bit more, but make sure they know that you are ‘handling’ the situation. In other words that it’s your adult responsibility to take care of things, and that you will tell them more as you know more.
For teens, it’s important to explain in more detail, but again reassure them that the adults are managing. It’s also good to add that you shared this with them because you understand and respect that they’d want to know.
Here's a brief summary of the reasons you want to be upfront and honest with your kids.
You owe it to yourself to be You.
They can tell when you’re faking it anyway.
They can feel when you aren’t being ‘real’ (authentic, open, honest).
They believe it means something scary is going on, and it’s about them and it’s their fault.
They think you’re keeping secrets from them, and they stop trusting you. (In turn, they start keeping things from you.)
Remember, when you are ‘real’, open, honest, and decide how much to tell your kids at each age, they learn to trust you more, and by your example they stay more ‘real’ (honest, open, authentic) with themselves and with you.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it's helpful. Please let me know .
Remember Twee' means you and me
Getting Real with Kids.
How to Help Mommies
Susie Caron © 3/25/16
This morning I was thinking about the many Mommies and Daddies who struggle with some kind of disability, frequent illness or chronic disease. It isn't easy to be a Mommy or Daddy. The work of raising children never ends. It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. How do Mommies and Daddies do it, if at the same time, they struggle with health issues of their own? Is there anything we can do to help them?
I have a few good friends who are raising children and coping with health issues like these. I am in awe of them because they must be doing a good job of coping while parenting. Their kids are happy and they seem to know how much they are loved and how well they are provided for. That's wonderful, but what about Mom and Dad? Are their needs being met?
My kids are adults, but I live with some degree of pain every single day, due to Rheumatoid Arthritis. So, I know something about physical difficulties, which are often accompanied by mental challenges for getting things done each day. I was feeling particularly poorly yesterday and struggling to do anything constructive. Then I thought about one of my Mommy friends who is dealing with health issues. I wondered how she was doing, so I asked her in a private message.
She responded and we chatted for a while. I did not plan to 'burden' her with how I felt, so when she asked, I answered briefly then we chatted about other things. I just wanted to connect with her and find out if she was feeling better. After our chat ended, I felt much better and the rest of my day went very well and I hoped hers did too. Then I realized I'd felt better just because I connected with her.
So I wonder about the many parents who deal with health problems while raising their children. It cannot be easy for them.
Have you noticed, people with health difficulties usually don't ask for help?
Do you know why?
It's because they don't want to bother friends and family members for 'things they think they can do themselves', (even if it takes longer and is more difficult than it might be if they were healthy.)
But there are things anyone can do that take only a little time and effort. It's the connecting that's important. Just by making a small effort you can play a huge part in lifting the hearts and spirits of Mommies and Daddies who struggle (even if it's not with health issues, but other issues.)
If you'd like to do something for your friends, but when you ask they say 'I'm fine." Then you may like this little list of ideas for what you can do to 'help'. Your tiny acts of kindness may be the source for lifting their spirits, providing encouragement, or support. You could be the reason your friend gets through another difficult day, and feels just a little bit better. Caring contact is more important than anything else. They just need to know you see them and you care.
List for ideas to connect and 'help' Mommies and Daddies
1. Phone, chat, or text your friend. Ask "How are you feeling today?" Let him or her talk. Just listen and don't give advice.
2. Send an "I'm thinking of your today." email or e-card.
3. Offer to pick up or take the kids to school, sports, or other events.
4. Going for groceries or errands, call and ask, "What can I pick up for you."
5. Offer to take the kids for a play day with your kids.
6. Invite him or her to come over for coffee or lunch.
7. When you drop in, and find your friend working on something, pitch in and help.
8. What can you add to this list? Post it for us in the comments.
Don't worry. Few of the people I know who struggle with illnesses want to 'burden' their friends. So they won't start leaning heavily on you if you do some of these. But, don't wait for 'someday', do something today, while you can and Above All - Connect.
Twee' means you and me
Taking time to care for our friends.
I’m The Mama!
Susie Caron © 3/4/16
Who’s the Mama in your house? I don’t mean who is called Mommy, Mother, or Mom. I’m asking if your kids know, without any wavering or doubt, that you (and your spouse) are in charge. If you hesitate to respond with a resounding “Yes!” then read this and I’ll show you why you’ll want to take charge!!!
I have a friend I’ve known for many years. She is just a great mom as evidenced by her happy, active kids who are also easy to be around. She told me that when they were little, her children often asked her to play with them. However, her daughter really wanted to play dolls and her son wanted her to spend time building blocks with him. She told me she would respond this way: “I won’t play dolls or building blocks with you, but if you want to play board games, puzzles or paint, then I’m your Mamma!”
I love that statement. “I’m your Mamma.” And I love that she was clear with them, about what she would and would not do. Then she told me this: “It’s good to play with my kids but I still get to be myself.” I love that about her too.
My friend communicated these messages with her kids, verbally but also through her attitude. She made it clear: First that she was in charge and second that she was honest by being true to herself with them.
When she said or indicated “I’m your Mama,” it told them she was in charge.
Kids need to know the parent is in charge.When parents make it clear that they are in charge of their home and confident in their decisions, their kids feel more secure.
She also honored herself, by being honest about what she’d be happy to do with them. Her honesty helped her kids gained the confidence to be honest about themselves too.Kids need honesty from their parents. Parents benefit too by being decisive and clear because it reduces resentment. Resentment can easily damage the parent-child relationship.
Do you make firm decisions and stick by them?
Do you get to be yourself?
It really helps both you and your kids when you do.
Don’t be afraid. You will not ‘mess up’ your kids by making firm decisions, that let you be you, (and perhaps help to save your sanity).
Don’t be afraid that you will ‘mess up’ the kids if you won’t play, or you say the wrong thing.
And, don’t be afraid of your kids either.
When you waffle about being in charge, or being honest, your kids feel uncertain too. That’s when and why they start to take over. They feel an instinctive need for ‘somebody to be in charge.” If you’re not in charge, then they have to be.
Start today to make parenting decisions based upon the clear notion that you are the parent and it’s not only your right but also your responsibility to make decisions about what your kids get to do, or need to do?
Start today to be yourself. (They say everyone else is taken anyway.) Be honest, get real and teach your kids how to be real too. This is also a good time to teach them to be polite and tactful as well as honest.
In everything you do or say, you can teach your kids how the real world works. The world won’t give in to their every whim. You don’t need to either. Parenting decisively and at the same time honoring your own personality, is your job. It’s your right and your responsibility. So give it your best, without fear, and your kids have a chance of growing up secure, confident and real.
Here's an idea for you: Write "I'm the Mama (or Daddy)" on one side of a small card. On the other side write, "I tell the truth." Carry it with you and read it often. With some practice you’ll soon be on your way.
Twee’ means you and me
Working together to take charge and raise secure, honest kids.
PS Are you getting your needs met? Listen to next week's "Building Parents & Good Kids" podcast episode #12, "Mommy Needs" for some helpful suggestions: Click for iTunes
Or here: if you prefer Stitcher Radio:
Don’t Shrink the Kids
Susie Caron © 2/27/16
Did you know , you are actively engaged in growing or shrinking your kids? There are lots of ways that we grow or shrink people we know and love, as well as friends, coworkers and everyone we meet. We are mostly unaware of this, but we need to make it more conscious if we want to grow kids, and not shrink them.
There are several ways you can do this.
One way is by the messages you send through your eyes.
Kids are hugely changed by what they see in your eyes. The way you look at your child may be nurturing or harsh, accepting, or rejecting. However, it’s not the occasional ‘correction’ that shrinks them. It’s the way you look at them ‘the most often’, that shrinks or grows them. That's because, Kids form their idea of who they are, from what they read in your eyes.
If you think they are irritating, problems, rude, messy, etc. they believe that’s who they are.
If you think they are fun, gifts, great kids, love, accepted, and enjoyed, they believe that’s who they are.
Can you see how important your eye contact can be for your kid’s healthy development? However, what’s shows in your eyes, comes from what you’re thinking.
Maybe my story will help illustrate how your thoughts can grow or shrink your kids.
As a child, I received a lot of criticism for being oversensitive. I admit I operated out of my feelings, first through last. But back then, what I saw in my parent’s eyes, was negativity, disappointment, and judgment. They were trying to bring me up the best way they knew how, and meant well. (I forgive and love them.) However, because I believed what I had seen about me in their eyes, I grew up a broken, hurting soul.
As a young adult, I continued to doubt my thoughts, feelings and actions, so I frequently sought the opinions of others. It wasn’t until my 50’s that I learned how a person’s eyes communicate their thoughts.
That year, I enrolled in graduate school and a course for play therapy. The instructor was amazing and I will always remember her eyes. In class, when anyone shared, she rarely spoke a word, but her eyes and body language said these:
“Yes! Oh wow! Absolutely! Wonderful! Amen! Way to Go! How True! Phenomenal!”
(And other similar affirmations.)
She didn’t comment, criticize or judge our words or what we were doing in our internship placements. Instead it felt like she watered us - Encouraged us - Supported us! Can you imagine what that did? We felt accepted and believed in.
She knew how to ‘grow people’, using her eyes. But, I realized that the messages she sent through those eyes was a decision she’d made before coming to class. I know, now, that she accepted each of us fully, and believed in us, not because of our ‘successes’ but because she decided to do so, knowing that we needed it to be confident and grow.
Can you imagine the effect this would have on you? To have someone believe in you, accept you, fully and without holding back? How would that make you feel?
She certainly had a positive effect on me. I felt accepted just as I was, and began to believe in myself. I was so reenergized that at 52 years of age, I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Psychology. I rented an office and treated children and parents in private practice, until I fully retired, 12 years later.
How can you grow your kids?
You already use your eyes to correct your kids when you glare at them. You also smile right through your eyes when they do or say things that make you proud. You can continue to do those. However, I am suggesting that you decide today, to plan ahead to think more positive thoughts about your kids the rest of the time. Let me show you what I mean.
Instead of thinking these:
What do you want now?
Oh, dear, here we go again.
How come you’re always late?
Where have you been?
Why can’t you be more careful?
You could actively think these:
Hi! Welcome home!
Oh! There you are!
You are special to me!
I’m so glad you told me.
Here I am, and there you are!
What you are thinking shows in your eyes, and body language. So why not choose to think good thoughts about your kids (and spouse) as often as you can. Write down a few and practice saying them out loud to yourself. (You don’t actually need to say them out loud to your kids, although that’s okay too.) However, it is very powerful to think and believe positive thoughts when you are with your kids.
This is how you grow your kids.
When you think good thoughts about them, look at them with acceptance, and believe in them they learn to trust themselves, their feeling thoughts and actions. The longer you believe in them, the more they believe in themselves and grow in beautiful ways.
There’s a bonus too! Using your eyes more often in this way helps you connect with your kids and builds the parent-child relationship to last. Isn’t that something you want?
Twee’ means you and me
Thinking Good Thoughts to Grow your Kids.
PS The eyes are the windows of the soul. That’s why my character Twee’ has big, wide eyes. Kids and adults love her because her heart shows through them. Buy one or all three picture books on Amazon for your kids today. Just click HERE.
How to Raise Unique Children
Susie Caron (c) 2/19/16
A friend shared this with me:
Question: “How do you catch a unique rabbit?”
Answer: “U ‘neek’ up on it.”
Question: “How do you catch a tame rabbit?”
Answer: “ ‘Tame ‘ way.”
That’s basically how you raise ‘unique children’. But there’s more to this than just 'catching' and 'taming'.
You have to be tough.
Do you find it really easy to understand one of your children, and not so easy to understand another? This is common in families with more than one child. It worries parents and makes treating your kids ‘fairly’ perplexing because you want to love and treat your kids the same. You don’t want them crying, “That’s not fair” frequently because it makes you feel guilty and you wonder why they can’t see that your trying.
To solve this, it’s important to understand and accept that each child is different, special, unique. That means that each one requires different kinds of care and special ‘handling’. This is true whether they are all the same gender, close in age, and like the same things. Kids are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. However, parenting decisions and discipline are complex because kids vary widely in gender, ages, strengths, and weaknesses. For example: You may have One child who loves the challenge of homework, while another abhors it and fights you tooth and nail to get out of it.
How can you possibly navigate all these differences and help the kids understand that they love each and every one of them?
You need to be a little bit tough.
That’s right. Put your Teflon Armor on, stand up straight, look them in their wide beautiful eyes and be tough on them, at least a little bit.
I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, so I encourage you to take a lesson from a character, named Ursula. She is the Sea Witch in the Disney movie, The Little Mermaid.
I don’t agree with the messages in this movie, but Ursula said a few things that good parents can adopt as best practice, because they make sense.
Here’ the best one:
“Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it.?”
How many times could you use that one to help your child realize that sometimes they must choose between two things they either want, or don’t want to do. When you say, "Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it?", you help your child to understand that this choice is their responsibility and not yours and that you understand that it may be difficult to choose. So, be tough and don’t make the choice for your child.
While I don’t believe the sea witch said this one, I think she could have.
“Life isn’t fair - get over it.”
Kids really want us to tell them life is fair all the time. But it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. (Ask them if they really want you to be fair and give them exactly identical birthday presents. They will see what you mean.
Kids also want you to demonstrate that you love each of them exactly the same.
So when you hear, “You love ____ more than me.” You can respond with something I liked to tell them:
“ I love you each the equally and differently.”
When you're a bit ‘tough’ on them, you are doing your kids a favor. The world is not an easy place and they will get knocked around by it. So be ‘matter of fact’ about choices and fairness and loving them equally but differently. By being tough you’ll help them learn how the world really works. By being tough you raise them, better prepared to succeed and even lead the next generation.
Twee’ Means You and Me
to Raise Unique & Capable Kids
PS. Picture book I Am Twee' helps kids recognize that being different is a good, because it means they're special with unique gifts to share. But it from Amazon today and read it and talk with your kids (ages 3-9). Click HERE.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!