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The best parenting items from October that we didn't discuss

Every month, there is plenty of thoughtful stuff that we never get around to discussing, and I wanted to give an overview of some of the more provocative thinking circulating in the parenting press in October:

If you want to sound off about any of this stuff, go at it in the comments. And if there are topics that fell through the cracks that we really need to tackle, post your suggestions below.

By Brian Reid |  November 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: Reflecting on past -- and future -- Cabbage Nights | Next: How do you raise kids who aren't bystanders?

Comments


"The New York Times asks if screaming is the new spanking. Maybe it's just me, but the garden variety outburst of frustration seems to be a whole different class than physical violence."

Huh?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

"Finally, I want to give a shout-out to at-home dad Mike Adamick, who wrote a touching and compelling piece for the New York Times' Motherload about how parenthood forced him to take a hard look at this drinking. Powerful stuff."

Drunks aren't pretty.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Wow! That piece written by Mike Adamick is very powerful. My parents drank on weekends and used to get drunk. I don't know that it scarred me. A bigger influence was likely the fact that drinking was so acceptable - in general - where I lived that most kids were drinking before they left high school.

I don't drink very much now and I always say it is because I drank enough in my teens and early twenties to last me a life time. Probably true, but I drink even less now because I have some kind of weird reaction to alcohol that usually isn't worth the glass.

Posted by: Billie_R | November 2, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

The "physical violence" line was unnecessary, combined with the numerous studies makes for a dull day on "On PArenting".

Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 2, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I just read a new study that proves that I'm happier than the average bear because I'm married with children.

You know, I've always suspected it, but never knew for sure until now...

It's like one of those things, if you haven't fallen asleep as a child reads you the book, "I Wish That I Had Duck Feet", you just. haven't. lived.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 2, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

re: love and respect the kids, etc...

I have an appt with an OT for DS cause the teacher suggested it, and we'll see.
I was talking with a neighbor, who has taken her kid to one at some point, and she said some throwaway line about how we all want the best for our kids, etc.
And I said to her: well, you know, I'm not so sure. I know MOST people want to do the best for the kids and MOST people do what they need to do, but having experienced some people and what they do - well, sometimes I'm not so sure. And I'm not even talking about those parents who might be a little bit permissive when they know they should be stricter or something like that (at least they KNOW). Anyway...

OT to AB and Laura: The job's in Columbia. DH and I would prefer for whoever is working to NOT have a long commute - maybe 1/2 an hour (we live in the city and my husband bikes to work now). So, that's where we are. The guy swore he'd get back to me by last Friday, but haven't heard anything. Hopefully this week? Have another phone interview this morning...with another company.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 2, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I was talking with a neighbor, who has taken her kid to one at some point, and she said some throwaway line about how we all want the best for our kids, etc.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 2, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Ja. "Parents all want the best for their kids" is a myth.


Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"My take is it's actually pretty hard to really screw up kids, as long as you show them love and respect."

Wait a second...you don't consider to be "screw(ed) up", the loud, obnoxious, selfish, self-centered, attention seeking, brats that we all encounter on a daily basis? Southwest Airlines had it right the first time when they threw the mother and her 2 year old brat off of their plane.

Posted by: kenman57 | November 2, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"Finally, I want to give a shout-out to at-home dad Mike Adamick, who wrote a touching and compelling piece for the New York Times' Motherload about how parenthood forced him to take a hard look at this drinking. Powerful stuff."

Drunks aren't pretty"

HELL JUST FROZE OVER, I totally agree with Jezebel. That was a drunk writing and should be viewed as such. Getting liquor every day, puleeze

Posted by: pwaa | November 2, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Compliance is gained by thoughtful training over time, not via screaming matches. Screaming, just like spanking, will work the first few times, but after a while the kids just get used to it and go on ignoring you. Then, what do you do? Fall back on spanking, of course.

Training kids to listen is not something that you can do in a single, enraged episode. You need to be in it for the long haul.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | November 2, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"and she said some throwaway line about how we all want the best for our kids, etc.
And I said to her: well, you know, I'm not so sure."

Yeah. I think almost all parents WANT what's best for their kids; but that's different from actually knowing or understanding what's best, and then being able to actually act accordingly is a whole 'nother thing. Wanting it is one thing; wanting it enough to be able to overcome your own crap is another.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

So, how do you train kids to listen? I don't spank, but I do occasionally raise my voice. Like we get into the car and i say "please buckle your seat belt" and instead he ignores me and fiddles with random objects or gazes out the window or plays with his sister. So I say it again and again, my voice rising. touching him when I talk doesn't even get him to focus on the task at hand.

Am I suppose to bribe him? "after you buckle your seat belt, I'll give you a cookie." Threaten? "If you don't buckle your seat belt by the time i count to three, no TV time for you all week!" None of these feel right for me.

I guess silent punishment would work-- I just sit there waiting until the job is done, but that could take forever, making the rest of us late while he focuses all his attention on ANYTHING rather than the task at hand. But maybe this is the sort of "long haul" stuff that eventually works?

Posted by: captiolhillmom | November 2, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Beyond not making the liquor store a stop after the park, you can do your kids a huge favor by not making drinking the center point of your social life.

If kids SEE that alcohol is always there, even if you are never get/act drunk, they think that it's a part of the landscape. Soon it becomes part of their landscape.

A good test for a parent is - can you do two weeks w/o any alcohol in your life. If you can't then you may want to rethink your lifestyle.

Posted by: RedBird27 | November 2, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

So, how do you train kids to listen?

Posted by: captiolhillmom | November 2, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Does your kid listen to any adult?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Threaten? "If you don't buckle your seat belt by the time i count to three, no TV time for you all week!" None of these feel right for me."

I am curious why imposing consequences for not listening seems worse than yelling to you? I am not being snarky; I also struggle with the best way to approach those moments and just wonder what your thougts are. I'd rather be calm and impose some consequence than yell, I think.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I think it is good for kids to see their parents drink regularly in a responsible manner. I saw my Dad and other family members drink wine together on holidays and social occasions and saw it was a normal part of life. Now that I am an adult I am regularly around drinking as part of my working life-isn't it good to have been taught moderation rather than being sheltered from drinking and then not knowing how to handle it?

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 2, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"So, how do you train kids to listen?

Posted by: captiolhillmom | November 2, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Does your kid listen to any adult?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 11:53 AM

Well, in my case, the one I acquired when she was under one year old is great at listening. The one I acquired when she was over three years old is not as good at listening, pretty much across the board.

So, how do you train kids to listen?

Posted by: janedoe5 | November 2, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"isn't it good to have been taught moderation rather than being sheltered from drinking and then not knowing how to handle it?"

I had a similar reaction. Though maybe the difference is in the context and intent - if your kids are seeing that alcohol is necessary for you, either to have fun or to relax or whatever, that's different from it just being an occassional pleasure but not an integral part of your day-to-day functioning. I think kids pick up on a lot of those nuances.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Now that I am an adult I am regularly around drinking as part of my working life-isn't it good to have been taught moderation rather than being sheltered from drinking and then not knowing how to handle it?"

Why characterize a family that chooses not to drink as "sheltering" their kids from drinking? A family that chooses not to stock twinkies, cheetos, and soft drinks in their home isn't sheltering their kids from crap food, they are teaching an appreciation for foods made of ingredients they can pronounce and a minimum of food coloring. A family that chooses to exercise on a daily basis isn't sheltering their kids from a sedentary lifestyle, they are displaying an active lifestyle.

To each his own, but lauding moderation in all things is sometimes a cop-out - a way of not making a decision that, all in all, life is better without certain things in it. Maybe the best choice -- for a particular family - is not to speed, not to engage in road rage, not to take OTC pain killers or cold products, not to eat meat, not to take a day off from exercise, not to use profanity or vulgarity. Maybe abstinence is easier for a lot of folks than moderation. If you prefer moderate drinking, go for it, but consider that for parents to display a lifestyle of abstinence from alcohol might just serve as a powerful message that alcohol is never essential to a social life or good time. When was the last time you heard about a sober person being the subject of non-stop chatter the day after the office holiday party?

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

""Now that I am an adult I am regularly around drinking as part of my working life-isn't it good to have been taught moderation rather than being sheltered from drinking and then not knowing how to handle it?""

I don't know. My husband and I almost never drink. We almost never drank before we had kids- I think we have a glass of wine a few times a year, at a holiday dinner. It just doesn't occur to us apart from that. Neither of our parents drank much, either. My husband did a little heavy drinking in late high school/early college, and that was pretty much the end of it (I would guess he was really drunk fewer than a dozen times). I just really don't like alcohol much and never went through a drinking phase.

People who don't drink aren't necessarily "sheltering" their kids from it. Lots of people just don't drink because they don't particularly care for drinking. However, the people I knew whose parents had the really well-stocked liquor cabinets seemed to take every opportunity they could to get really smashed every time their parents left the house.

Posted by: floof | November 2, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

anonfornow

I am not suggesting you become the office drunk. Nor am I suggesting that you start drinking if you dont like to drink. But I was writing in response to Redbird's comments:
If kids SEE that alcohol is always there, even if you are never get/act drunk, they think that it's a part of the landscape. Soon it becomes part of their landscape.

A good test for a parent is - can you do two weeks w/o any alcohol in your life. If you can't then you may want to rethink your lifestyle.

Posted by: RedBird

So what if it becomes part of their landscape when they are adults if they are responsible? I can't change the fact that in my industry and my husband's different industry most people network over drinks after work or at conferences or meetings. Better we know how to drink responsibly than be the people who never participate in social occasions or worse yet make a fool of ourselves drinking too much. And also, I don't hide behind moderation. We don't keep junk food in our house and we are in shape-except I am getting bigger by the week since I am pregnant!

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 2, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

anonfornow, you make some good points, but it's interesting because "sheltering" is a common accusation for any parenting that deviates from the norm - not having junk food, not allowing TV, not allowing toy guns, etc. The most common criticism of those practices is that they are sheltering and that the kids will eventually discover them and become obsessed with them.

It's certainly been said to me about some of my choices, and I have to admit, there does seem to be some merit to it with some things. It's like my son picks up on the fact that I feel conflicted or strongly about something, and that just makes it more interesting to him. It's like what he learns is that it's important or significant, but for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, some rules where I don't have an emotional investment in it or don't feel conflicted, he's just never noticed. I think it matters a lot why you do something and how you communicate about it - directly or indirectly - in terms of what lessons your child actually learns.

I think not drinking is a fine choice; it's certainly a lot healthier than a lot of other choices with regards to alcohol and a necessary one for some. But I do think the lesson that kids learn from that choice will vary depending on the reasons for the parents' choices and the way they talk about it, and the amount of significance that alcohol or the absence of it still carries for the parents.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Your child needs to buckle their belt, period. No negotiations, buckle the belt. If they "won't do it" do it for them. As a parent, there are things that are negotiable and things that are non-negotiable. It is important for them to recognize the non-negotiable ones as soon as possible.

I agree with askljekrek(more consonats) training kids to listen takes time. The most important thing is that you, the parent, have the self discipline to provide consistent consequences every time. We do not reward our children for doing the things that they are supposed to do - listening, cleaning their rooms, being respectful, what we do reward is taking initiative, doing something extra they weren't asked to do or doing something kind. I was sick recently and my kids made my bed for me after I got up because they knew I was sick - they got a colored bead in the bead jar. When the jar is full, we have a special treat as a family.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Threatening works pretty good in our household. In the areas that I have been able to enforce consistently with loss of movie privileges - we have had much more consistent behaviour from him.

He loves his movies so losing this privilege is a huge deal to my step-son. It is especially onerous to him (as we discovered one night) when his sister is not punished with him and sees the movie without him. When he complains, my #1 response is that actions have consequences and this is the consequence.

Posted by: Billie_R | November 2, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"So, how do you train kids to listen?"

Getting a child to "listen" is one thing, getting him to cooperate is another. For a child to cooperate, he first has to understand what is being asked of him. This is where I see most of the so-called yellers fail in their communication.

The human voice conveys as much, if not more, information on the emotional condition of the person speaking a command as it does the message, especially to children. Put it this way, you can say, "buckle your seatbelt" in a strong, controled, non-threatening, clear voice and your child will be much more likely to hear the content of the message than if you added the emotional baggage of anger and frustration. I've noticed that almost all yellers go strait for the emotional content which leaves the child with an additional layer of decoding to do before they can get down to the meaning of the message.

So, training your child to listen is more of an exercise on training your voice to convey content rather than emotion. Now, getting them to cooperate with what you expect them to do is a different story, but at least they know what you want from them. One thing for sure, if you can't even control how you express yourself, don't expect your child to be able to control how he reacts to it.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 2, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Whacky must be at his juice.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 2, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

"and she said some throwaway line about how we all want the best for our kids, etc.
And I said to her: well, you know, I'm not so sure."

Yeah. I think almost all parents WANT what's best for their kids; but that's different from actually knowing or understanding what's best, and then being able to actually act accordingly is a whole 'nother thing. Wanting it is one thing; wanting it enough to be able to overcome your own crap is another.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I would love to be able to agree with you. It would make sense, right? I mean, who wants to live in a world where it's not true?

But, I do know someone who has a 9 YO child. Who has said: I know there's been something off with him since he was born. Who has been getting advice from everyone and their brother for 9 + years. Who had a diagnosis from one school system, and when they moved, her husband said: we just won't tell them - they'll put him in a 'regular' classroom, and everything will be fine. Who has seemingly enjoyed all this 'excitement' in her life. Who didn't even look into which school systems would help her child the most. WHo didn't look into the school system at all.

That's just one example of one person. I don't know most other people to know whether or not they are doing the best or what they think is the best for their kids. But I do know this one.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 2, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

it's not a threat to say: if you do (or don't do) this...there will be consequences. CHildren need to learn that they need to do things- and they need to listen - and taking away things they like will hopefully enforce to them who is in charge and that they need to listen to them.
Let's face it, just like adults, they don't want to do what they don't want to do. But they have to learn, and well, how else do you teach them?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 2, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I like Whacky's comments about getting kids to listen.

I call it the "dog trainer" voice, because I learned to use it when I was taking a puppy to obedience classes. That was 4-5 years before we had any kids. Interesting how well *the* voice works with kids, and adults, too.

DH is a yeller - and as a trained singer he can *really* yell! But I can walk into the center of the excitement, and start issuing 2-3 word instructions, and the boys will jump to do what I say, because the instructions are very simple and clear (simple and clear are especially important with older son's autism), and the tone is direct and commanding.

For the kid who takes *forever* to fasten a seatbelt - younger son is a serious daudler when it comes to getting in the car and going anywhere, but especially getting out the door for school in the mornings. DH's solution was to leave the younger kid behind, and get the older one to school on time.

Younger son *really* didn't like it, and now when DH says: "Get in the car, it's time to leave," younger son will grab socks, shoes, lunch, or whatever he's delaying over, and get to the car fast. He can put on the clothes, or assemble his lunch, or whatever-it-was in the car.

I also liked the "do it for them" suggestion. With younger son, we'll comment that we guess we must be expecting too much from such a little kid, and we'd better take care of him until he's old enough to do it for himself. He gets *very* insulted at the suggestion, and he's quick to demonstrate that he can do whatever-it-is.

These tricks won't work on every kid, but maybe something here will at least be worth trying.

Posted by: SueMc | November 2, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the delay-- my child listens well to others, just not his parents! Maybe he hears me talk so much, it just because background noise to him.

I do start with a calm voice, calm manner, but it is only when i start getting upset and I become more shrill that he finally pays attention.

Why don't I like the "If you don't do X then no TV for the week?" Fundamentally, I feel like I shouldn't have to do this. If a parent directs their child to do something, they should just do it. Also, I don't like using TV as some sort of incentive/threat/goody. We rarely have time to watch much of it in our house anyway. I'd liek to keep attention off the TV as much as possible and using it as a lure to good behavior doesn't fit with that plan.

Conversely, I love the idea of a movie being used this way. A movie really is a special event-- so i imagine if I were to say "If you don't buckle now, then you won't join us at the movies this month" I would get some pretty fast behavior.

But it still disappoints me that I should even have to say that. WE all were never so disrespectful of our parents, right? WE always did what they asked of us immediately, right?

Anyway, thanks for providing the feedback!

Posted by: captiolhillmom | November 2, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The parents who try to control their kids through threats and punishments are amung some of the saddest/most angry families I've ever met.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 2, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Just read the "dog trainer" voice stuff. This is great!

I actually was recently informed that I have a high register, breathy voice that just isn't naturally commanding. She recommended that I do scales every morning to warm up the lower register of my voice. It feels very unnatural when I do speak in my lower voice, but I'll give it a shot! Next time, instead of raising my voice, I'll lower it. Maybe add a little growl for emphasis.

Posted by: captiolhillmom | November 2, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Next time, instead of raising my voice, I'll lower it. Maybe add a little growl for emphasis.
---------------
I had to laugh at that--really funny! I'll bet the kids will sit up, take notice, and actually comply with whatever it is you want. Wish I had thought of that when we were raising our kids. :)

Posted by: lsturt | November 2, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Offer the child a choice -- "Do you want to buckle your own seatbelt, or should I do it?." If the kid ignores you, just buckle it yourself. Why sit and wait for the child to deign to comply? These people are not productive members of society. They do not have the life experience necessary to be the best choice to make decisions for the family, so can someone please explain why so many people are putting the kids in charge? Treat them with love and respect, sure, but thinking you need their approval of your every move is absurd.

Posted by: rh36 | November 2, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Why don't I like the "If you don't do X then no TV for the week?" Fundamentally, I feel like I shouldn't have to do this. If a parent directs their child to do something, they should just do it."

Well, yeah, of course we'd all like it if our kids just did what we asked and we didn't have to do any discipline ever. But most kids don't, at least sometimes, so the question is what's a better solution to this problem: yelling or imposing a consequence?

I think, as Whacky very eloquently said, yelling has a lot of pitfalls, not the least of which is that most of what you convey is your emotion, and it's just not that effective long term I don't think.

I've been trying to remember to focus more on positive reinforcement, which i've read is more effective overall. We don't reward our son for doing what he's supposed to do, but we do acknowledge it. Just things like, "wow, you really are cooperative this morning, it sure is making things easy for everyone." Or "I like the way you used your words to figure that out, it worked really well." I also read a suggestion somewhere to acknowledge it to another adult, so sometimes we'll make a point of telling each other in front of him if he was especially helpful or cooperative or whatever with one of us. It probably sounds lame but I think it's been pretty effective. It's funny, sometimes you can see it register in his face, like "oh yeah, that was good."

Posted by: LizaBean | November 2, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Better we know how to drink responsibly than be the people who never participate in social occasions or worse yet make a fool of ourselves drinking too much."

Again, you ignore the reasonably option of participating in social occasions while not drinking alcohol. You seem to inhabit an either/or world of extremes. It's interesting that you have so much invested in believing alcohol is absolutely essential to adult social life.

Particularly in the case of business drinking, the cardinal rule is to be self-confident in your own choices, responsible for your actions, and keep your opinions of others' choices to yourself.

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Again, you ignore the reasonably option of participating in social occasions while not drinking alcohol. You seem to inhabit an either/or world of extremes. It's interesting that you have so much invested in believing alcohol is absolutely essential to adult social life.

Particularly in the case of business drinking, the cardinal rule is to be self-confident in your own choices, responsible for your actions, and keep your opinions of others' choices to yourself.

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2


Oh goodness, so you are the only one who is self-confident in your choices and allowed to voice your opinion? And you say I am believing in extremes when I say it's not a big deal to have a couple drinks and you insist none is best?

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 2, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

no, sunflower, I am not the only one who is self-confident, I am the one of the two of us that allows everyone to make her own choice.

Why is it such a big deal to you for others to have either a couple of drinks or none? Goodness or not.

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Liza, acknowledgement of a good deed, especially done without being told, is one of the best rewards one can give a child. Same goes for adults for that matter.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 2, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

It isn't a big deal to me if others have a couple of drinks or not. I really don't care. I was simply writing in response to the couple people on here who think it's so horrible to drink in front of kids and I was saying I disagree if you do so in a responsible manner. I simply used the work drinking as an example of a situation your child may encounter someday and how I am glad I have learned to drink in moderation. I have seen coworkers make total fools of themselves and fortunately this hasn't been an issue for me. Is there a connection between seeing my family drink reponsibly? Who know for sure but I think there could be.

And I don't have anything invested in thinking drinking is key to an adult's social life. I am just stating that in the world I inhibit, right or wrong, I see a lot of drinking. Again I really don't care if my coworkers or friends drink. Or if you drink. Just offering my opinion on a blog. I don't go around in real life suggesting people should drink. Don't care!

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 2, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Re Acknowledgment: which means of course, I had better get thanked for unloading the dishwasher this morning or I'm gonna pout when I get home from work this evening. :-)

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 2, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

meant inhabit, multitasking

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 2, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The biggest victory for parents in recent months is the outing of "Baby Einstein" by The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. "Baby Einstein" videos have been cleverly marketed as an educational tool for children, and are targeted to the parents of the same audience -- children under the age of 2 -- that the American Academy of Pediatrics warns should not view TV and videos, period. "Baby Einstein," and other infant 'educational' devices profit on a parents need for a breather now and then, but instead of educating, they put a child a risk for language delays, learning disorders and obesity. We should not have to compromise our childrens' health for a bit of free time. Cultivating an infant's uninterrupted play time is the better alternative. Babies need to explore life, not pictures of life. For more, read: http://bit.ly/2el5YN

Posted by: janet12 | November 3, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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