Being a kid in the 1970s, 80s or 90s was so much better than today, or so says countless essays, listicles and Facebook rants. We played in the street, stayed put until dark and used our imagination instead of iPads. Our parents were stern, but still gave us freedom to explore. We tell our own children of the good old days and wax poetic about how wonderful their lives would have been back then.
Raising children today can never be like it was. Society changes, values evolve, technology grows, new challenges emerge, etc., etc. Our grandparents grew up very differently from our parents, as did our parents from us. Our great grandparents may not have had much of a childhood because, back then, kids were expected to work at a young age.
Our ancestors are looking down on us and wondering what is wrong with us. Our kids are fortunate in so many ways. They are not suffering the burden of a Great Depression or the terror of a World War. And while, as a New Yorker, I do not discount the real fear of terrorism, the truth is, kids in the United States are safer than ever. Instead of bemoaning the fate of our children, let’s give them the childhood they deserve. Continue reading →
My mother often calls me, “Miss Law and Order,” not because I work in the legal field, but because, from a young age, I tended to always follow the rules. If my family played a game together, you can bet I observed everyone’s moves closely, lest they attempt to cheat. My mom, who is never one to just go with convention, would chide me for being no fun.
My innate desire for things to abide by a predetermined set of regulations regularly clashes with my desire to let my children engage in free play. I fight my urge to grab the instruction manual and shout, “No, this is how you do it!” Continue reading →
Rainy days were awesome at summer camp. We put on our least favorite clothing (hopefully for our parents’ sake), find an open space in the middle of the field and plunge on to our bellies. Sliding through the mud we didn’t care how wet and filthy we became. We were kids having fun.
I’m guessing you have a similar story from your childhood. Remember how amazing stomping in puddles felt? The sound of the splashing water. The squishy sensation of your boats. The smell of rain. Continue reading →
When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided I would keep working. My job as a writer/editor enabled me to work from home, and, while it didn’t pay a lot, it did provide decent insurance coverage for my family. My husband, then an independent contractor, also worked from home. Our ability to work where we wanted and flexible schedules, in theory, gave us the perfect scenario for keeping our jobs while raising our children.
Before my baby was born, I arranged, what I thought at the time, was a pretty sweet setup. I would work from home four days a week and come in to the office for one. I could be at home with my child and still work. On those days I had to be in the office, my husband could take care of the baby. What kick-ass parents we would be. Killing it in the workforce and as parents.
My family spends much of our day outside, mostly to keep our two boys from climbing off the walls. On those days when the weather is too gross to be outdoors, I often turn to engaging experiments and projects to pass the time.
You don’t need much to spark the little scientist in your kid: just some objects you have around the house and some curiosity does the trick.
If you have kids who have slept for at least five straight hours since birth, first, tell me your secret, then stop reading. OK, you don’t have to stop reading, you can laugh along with the rest of us, miserable, tired parents.
I am not sure who passed on the this sleep aversion to our children. I blame my husband for my oldest’s bizarre nightmares and sleep walking episodes. I am probably at fault for our youngest being wide-eyed and ready to party at 3 a.m. Either way, we have long accepted our fate as perpetually drowsy parents. And because, we don’t know of any kids who suck at shut-eye more than our brood, I decided to turn my attention to the animal kingdom. Yes, fellow, exhausted parents, these creatures will make you thank the stars (which you are probably up staring at because your kid is still awake) that you have human children. Continue reading →
Difficult, stubborn, strong-willed, a free spirit. All of these words describe my oldest son. He is only four, yet he often pushes me over the line between parent and child. I am not ashamed to admit I have lost my cool on occasion. I have found myself sucked into battle after battle. I resented him for not being a more easy-going child. On many days, I was just hoping to make it to bed time before becoming emotionally exhausted and physically aching.
If you have a child like mine, I am sure like me, you looked for ways to change his or her behavior. You read the blogs, sought guidance from your own parents and shared your struggles with your friends. All have good intentions. Phrases like “positive reinforcement” and “be stern, but fair,” are constantly buzzing in your ear. You try everything to get your kid to change, to just be a little easier. To be like your friends’ kids. Maybe you see a change, and maybe you don’t. Maybe when things don’t work, you question everything you have ever done as a parent.
I was that parent. I asked, “Why me?” When it seemed like I spent day after day trying to reason with my son. I turned my frustration out on him, and that just made things worse. It was a horrible cycle leaving everyone tired and unhappy. I thought, if only I had more help, if only my kid was easier, if only I had more peace and quiet.