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Entries about parenting

Helicopter Mom

sunny 80 °F

I find this whole thing baffling: on one side we are supposed to puree, and steam, and stamp little sandwiches into cute shapes, and make our own party invitations; but on the other side, don't be too hands-on, mom. I read an article in a parenting magazine entitled 'micromanaging helicopter moms'. She stated that moms can be too quick to rush in and fix a problem for their kids, or stay too close while they are interacting in playgroups. She stated we moms can be too overprotective of our kids. OK, I confess that according to the article, I fall into this category. I am that mom who climbs the jungle gym after her toddler, to make sure he doesn't fall off. And who helps to fix his train set when he asks me to, even if it is before I have had my morning coffee. I admit it, I hover. But where is the line between 'attentive' and 'overprotective'?

The way I see it, I answer to myself as a parent. It annoys me when anyone else, my husband included, chimes in on my parenting style. I do what I intuitively feel to be best, with regard to park play, sleep habits, even vaccinations. We are our children's advocates and we are their guardians. If I choose to leave the park when a child is there that seems troublesome and throws rocks, that is my choice. Maybe it's overprotective, maybe neurotic, maybe it's instinctual, maybe sensible. I am the one that has to live with my parenting choices, not anyone else. And so is every other parent. Not their doctor, not your friends. I figure, I am the one (or my husband is the one!) who is up at 3 AM consoling our son if he can't sleep due to our travel plans. I am the one dealing with the consequences of my actions as a parent. We are the ones teaching him life lessons and how to feel about the world around him. We are the ones helping him to feel safe, to trust, to be compassionate, to communicate his feelings. When we focus on the attributes we want to reinforce, and we are thoughtful about how we support and display those qualities in our own life, we can easily pattern these attributes of character in everyday life for our children to see. It is important to trust ourselves as parents, to be aware of our own attitudes and behaviors, and to be present in the moment to do the best we can for our kids. If that makes me a little bit of a helicopter mom to someone else, so be it.

Posted by globalmomma 05:30 Archived in USA Tagged quality style helicopter trust parenting protective clingy nurture boundaries compassion Comments (1)

the parenting manual

sunny 82 °F

Every mother of a toddler grieves the process of their little baby growing up. We miss the cuddles, the way they ate everything we put in front of them with enthusiasm, the way they thought we were the greatest thing ever. We long for the days of being able to browse in a bookstore while our little one snoozed in their carseat, or contently chewed on a little rubber giraffe. I remember when we had our firstborn, exhausted parents would tell us, "go out now, while you still can." We thought, what?! Going out to eat with a baby isn't so easy - you have to haul a giant diaper bag (which you prepared in advance), a stroller, several kinds of baby food, and a car seat into a restaurant and hope your baby didn't wake up or poop through their diaper or cause a scene. Little did I know that two years later, I would still have those same concerns, and generally have a harder time making my wishes come true. Now a two year old has a much more developed sense of what HE wants to do, and what he thinks is a good idea. You may think going out to pizza is the greatest thing ever, and when you arrive at the restaurant, he stubbornly digs in his heels, shaking his head, no no.

This is all very perplexing for a mother, and certainly takes a lot more finesse and compromise and inventive thinking than life with a baby. I am humbled by the realization that as one phase begins to get easier and I seem to figure out my child and myself, another phase and development comes along that completely throws me for a loop. I have discovered that parenting is one giant drawing board of trial and error for which the manuals are dramatically ill-equipped. Parenting is like putting together Ikea furniture - there are illustrations and there is some understanding of what the finished product should be like, but getting from here to there often requires some tools that you do not have. Picking up those tools as you go along is the whole key to the puzzle. The current tools I am working on are "choosing your battles", knowing when it is important to make a stand, and the art of letting go. Letting go of the baby that is now becoming a boy, and letting go of my need to be right and to have plans. Often my plans or desires are thwarted by the plans or realities of a little being who also has needs and plans and ideas. This should seem obvious, but when you are walking through Target trying to get your errands checked off for the day, and your son is vocally letting the store know that he is "all done" being there...sometimes you have to abandon the mission. At first I try to reason with him, "just five more minutes, OK, momma has something she needs to get done". "Seriously, you need to stay in the cart and wait". Hmm, this does not seem to be getting through, I think to myself. I try distraction. I try promising a trip to the park. Finally I decide, 'is getting a tube of toothpaste really worth the trouble?' And I leave a half-full cart and head home.

This challenges my sanity, because I want to be able to reason with a child, to let him know of course that I have needs too, and sometimes he has to allow me to get things done. Yes, that's what he needs to know. Hmm. Problem is, a 2 year old is not yet able to reason, so as well as I may think I explain myself, what he hears is close to the Peanuts adults saying, "Whnt whnt whnt". That's where the letting go, and the choosing of the battles comes in. Oh, and the sense of humor. I expect that sometimes my desires will not get met, and sometimes even the best intended plans do not work out. This is all an evolution; and like everything in life, the more you can learn to let go and embrace the process, the better things will be.

Posted by globalmomma 14:49 Archived in USA Tagged sunny go manual toddler needs parenting letting Comments (0)

Picky Eater, Part 1

overcast 77 °F

My son Bodhi has always been a good eater. He latched on in less than an hour after birth, and took to nursing with a zealous flair. The kid knew his #1 priority, and he took it seriously. When that milk (me) came home even ten minutes late from the store, he would let me hear it. We followed the rules, breast milk only, but by 5 1/2 months, we decided to give him his first food just a little earlier than the steadfast recommendation of 6 months. He seemed so ready. He seemed hungry. He whined and reached for our forks while we ate. He wanted to nurse - almost always - just as the food was ready and put out on the dinner table. My husband would be cooking, the smell of food was in the air, and just as the food was finished and hot and I was ravenous, he would want to nurse.

We gave him his first food, avocado, and it was a moment I will never forget. "Mmmmmmm". "MMmmmmm", was his emphatic response to that. He gobbled up three bowls. 3 bowls. Not three teaspoons, as I read was the 'appropriate' amount for babies this age to want to eat, like the baby books will tell you. He literally ate an entire avocado... My husband and I laughing out loud the entire time. The only food he rejected in the entire first year of eating was green peas. And we tried a lot: beets, rutabagas, swiss chard, white beans with olive oil, lamb, basil, curry, olives, turkey, millet, apricots, pumpkin...

Anyway, as a baby, he was an enthusiastic eater. But that has all turned on its head this second year. Since he started wanting to feed himself, the options of what he can eat narrowed somewhat. Some dishes were just too messy or too difficult for him to eat himself. No more beets, no thin purees, no good healthy veggies disguised by the sweetness of fruits. So we went to finger foods, but then all meats were out due to textural issues, and all eggs too, except for hard-boiled egg whites. A protein dilemma. And almost all vegetables - except carrots, yams, corn, beets, and potatoes - (the starchy ones) - almost all others he rarely eats. Even avocado, his long-time favorite, is now rejected.

To add to the challenge, we have discovered a number of food allergies, two of which are a real doozy when trying to:
A) eat out at restaurants
B) keep things exciting and maintain variety
C) not spend his entire college fund at specialty stores

Wheat and Cow's Milk are his two sensitivities. Whenever I tell other parents this, they always ask: How did you know? Well, first, my husband and I are both naturopathic doctors, so it is literally our job to know these things. Secondly, careful observation of signs and symptoms related to foods he eats. Many people do not think to correlate the food that they eat with how they feel: headaches, skin allergies, mood swings, fatigue... all of these symptoms and more are OFTEN correlated with food and sensitivities to foods. For our son in particular, it was skin allergies (eczema) and diaper rash/diarrhea. Every time he eats dairy, he gets diaper rash. I don't believe that babies should just have diaper rash - in my medical experience, it is almost always a food sensitivity, sometimes coupled with a sensitivity to products being used, for example the wipes, lotions, or diapers. More on the naturopathic diagnosis and ways to deal with food allergies (now a major focus of my work!) in Picky Eater, part 3. :)

Posted by globalmomma 13:09 Archived in USA Tagged food child baby foods first tips eater allergies parenting picky Comments (0)

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