March 20, 2014

Mothers Stand United

Today as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from a friend of mine from high school, who is also a mother now herself. Her post was about how new mothers should really stop and think before they do the “cry it out” method, which I didn’t really have a problem with because she has a right to express her opinion – and she did so in a very friendly manner. However, as I read through some of the comments that were posted in regards to that post, it became clear that there were several mothers who were very verbal in their opinions about whether one should use the “cry it out” sleep method or another technique.

While I do have an opinion on this particular topic, it really isn’t of any importance because the issue that I have with all of this is the manner in which many mothers choose to verbalize their opinions on topics like this.

We all have our opinions and preferences when it comes to mothering our children, but does that necessarily mean that our way is better than another mother’s way of mothering? I don’t believe that it does (unless, there is abuse involved). As we all know, children differ in their personalities, learning abilities, emotions, etc., teaching parents how to adapt to each of their children’s individual needs. Basically, what works for one child may not work for another child in areas such as school, discipline, learning, etc. So, doesn’t it also make sense that mothering isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing?

So what if one mother chooses to sleep train her child with the “cry it out” technique and you don’t agree with it? Does that really make her a bad mother? Does that mean she doesn’t love her children just as much as you do? Absolutely not – all it means is that she has a different way of doing things.

The same holds true for mothers who breast feed versus those who bottle feed; mothers who prefer the attachment parenting style; mothers who believe cloth diapers are the only way to go; mothers who co-sleep with their children until they’re in kindergarten, and the list could go on and on.

The point I’m trying to make here is that, as mothers, shouldn’t we be supportive of each other regardless of whether we agree with the parenting choices our fellow mothers are making? I mean, we all have a big thing in common: we’re mothers. As mothers, we all have to deal with the same things at one point or another: sleepless nights, sick kiddos, whining/nagging, loss of privacy (what’s it really take to use the restroom in private?), getting the kids fed, bathed and in bed on time, etc. All of these things are stressors that every mom faces, so shouldn’t we be there for one another instead of looking for ways to “one-up” our fellow mommies?

Does this mean you should change your views in regards to parenting? No, it doesn’t. All I’m asking is that, as mothers, we make an effort to accept one another for who each individual is and that includes each individual parenting style. It’s okay to disagree, but (unless there is abuse involved) do so in a way that is non-condescending and doesn’t make the other mom feel inadequate. Mothering is hard enough, the last thing we need to do is make it harder by bickering amongst ourselves about the “petty” things that really won’t matter when our kids are older anyways.

March 9, 2014

How to Raise Children who Care about Others

I’m not sure about you, but lately I have been noticing just how rude and inconsiderate people are towards one another. While most of us have come to realize just how self-centered the majority of adults are, a lot of us don’t think about kids being the same way. However, the sad truth is that they are just as guilty as adults.

The difference between children and adults is that adults know better and it’s us, the adults, who are raising the children. Therefore, in most cases, the behavior of rude and inconsiderate children is a result of what they are learning from their parents at home.

Personally, I do not want to be responsible for turning young adults out into the world who only think about themselves and don’ t care about the people surrounding them. These are not the people who are going to further their communities and help make a difference in the world. So, as a parent, what can I do to raise kids that care about others?

1.  Show compassion. Think about it. How are children supposed to learn how to be compassionate towards others if they are never shown compassion? I have to admit, I have found myself being less than compassionate towards my children from time to time. Like the time, my son ran into the slide in our backyard because he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. Instead of asking if he was okay, I laughed and said, “you’re okay – brush it off and get back to playing.” Yes, my son was okay and I could tell he was by the way he was acting, but he didn’t necessarily feel that way right at first. If I want my children to show compassion towards others, then I have to be careful as to teach them what compassion is through my actions.

2.  Help those in need. I do believe that it’s important to help those in need, but this isn’t something that I have always felt strongly about. I can remember my mom always taking the time to help those who needed help when I was young, but as a young child I would get annoyed because it was keeping us from the fun things we had already planned. However, today I can see how much she cared for others by the way she took the time to help those who needed it. And, she taught me the importance of helping others by helping others in front of me. While many of us donate money and other tangible items to those in need, how many of us take the time to stop what we’re doing and help people when we are on our way somewhere – with the kids in tow? Show your kids what it means to help others in need because this is a learned behavior.

3.  Don’t give them everything they want. It can be difficult to tell our kids “no” when they ask for something that we know they would enjoy, but it’s important that we don’t teach them that they get everything they want just because they want it. I recently saw a story about a teenage girl who was trying to sue her parents because they refused to continue paying for her private high school education (they stopped paying because she refused to abide by their rules). The girl was trying to get the judge to order her parents to pay for the remainder of her high school education and her college education. Thankfully, the judge ruled against this girl, but the issue to me was that this girl felt entitled to get what she wanted. This isn’t okay. When kids begin to feel entitled to things, they get very self-centered and become rude and inconsiderate of others. One of the only ways to prevent this from happening is for parents to not give in to their children’s every whim. If there is something that they want then show them how they can earn the money to buy it – don’t just give it to them.

4.  Talk kindly to one another.  For some reason people tend to take the people they care about the most for granted, yet treat others more respectfully. If you want to teach your child to care about others and their feelings, you have to start by treating those at home with more respect. Talking kindly to one another (at home, as well as, out in public) is one of the best ways to instill an attitude of respect in your children because they learn how to treat people by watching how you treat people, especially by how you treat your spouse and your children on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you have any additional ideas for how parents are to raise children to be kind and compassionate towards others?