Category Archives: Family

Are you a Judgy McJudgerson?

photo of man pointing his finger

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Have you heard this famous saying about parenting? “I was the perfect parent until I had children.”

I just love this tongue-in-cheek phrase because it’s so apt. We are all the perfect parent, teacher, doctor, actor, trainer, etc., until we step into that person’s shoes. Then it’s like, “Hmmmm…maybe this isn’t as easy as it looks.”

Before I was a parent (and, if I’m being truthful, even afterwards), I’d often think: “Oh, I would never let my kid [fill in the blank]:”

  • Eat candy before dinner
  • Watch a horror flick
  • Skip a day of school to stay home and sleep
  • Ignore another child
  • Talk back to me

But, a lot of situations have multiple variables… Perhaps that parent’s kid has been cooped up sick for a week and is finally feeling better and wants a piece of candy at 5 pm. Or, maybe the child who looks like he’s being ignored has been badgering someone else for weeks on end. Or, maybe the parent you’re judging for letting their teen walk all over him is just too mentally exhausted to reprimand their child. There is almost always more to the story than what appears on the surface.

Of course, I still have opinions, questions and concerns at times. While I’m not a social worker, therapist or doctor, I volunteered with Children’s Aid Society for five years and was on the parent advisory council for a regional children’s mental health organization and I have a good understanding of trauma, abuse and neglect.

My parenting judgements (or lack thereof) aren’t all noble either; sometimes I roll my eyes when parents or babysitters let their kids stuff their faces with sugar or run amok in the movie theatre. I mean, there are limits to everyone’s patience! However, I really do try to give people the benefit of the doubt before I become just another Judgy McJudgerson.

What about you? What’s your take on judging other parents? Do you try to hold back or abstain altogether?

 

The Long-Term Implications of Spanking

boy in white shirt and black track pantsPhoto by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For decades, spanking (also known as physical discipline or corporal punishment) has been used and thought of as an effective way to discipline children.

Parents, teachers, ministers, coaches, babysitters, and others have used force to keep kids in line, as punishment for misdeeds or to “teach them a lesson.” Sometimes, young children – even babies and toddlers – are spanked, hit and slapped.

Why resort to violence?

Generally, common sense or one’s own inner voice tells us that any type of physical force or violence is not appropriate or helpful in child-rearing. Yet, anyone who’s a parent (or teacher or babysitter or grandparent) knows that it is very easy to lose one’s patience and lash out at a child who is acting out, causing frustration in the home or classroom, not listening or talking back.

Last week, I received a press release stating that the American Psychological Association has adopted a resolution on physical discipline of children by parents. The findings won’t surprise you: Overall, the APA has amalgamated several studies showing that, over the long-term, spanking and other forms of physical discipline can:

  • cause harm to children’s mental health
  • negatively affect their cognitive, behavioral, social and emotional well-being
  • cause children to mimic their parents’ behavior and repeat the same patterns later in life

Most parents would never want to physically or emotionally harm their child and only use force out of aggravation or frustration. But, understanding the toll that physical violence takes on children is paramount to successful parenting.

Where to get help and guidance:

As we all know too well, parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world. We need all the help we can get whether that’s from fellow parents, teachers, friends, neighbours, community resources, books, pastors or others. 

Personally, I think parents could use further free resources on parenting at different stages i.e. baby, toddler, elementary, teen, young adult, etc. There is so much to learn and grasp and so many questions popping up. Yes, there are various parenting programs available (especially in major centres) but perhaps a government run system of parenting workshops over time would be helpful both in the short and long-term.

Please see the short list at bottom of immediate helpful resources. A more fulsome list is coming soon.

Before I go… Let’s not forget the upside of mental health:

“Mental health” doesn’t have to be a downer or a negative thing. There are so many intriguing, fascinating, useful phenomena around mental health, illness and wellness.

For instance, one of my kids is in a new, progressive high school. Many of the teachers there use what is known as a “growth mindset.” I’ve heard about this philosophy recently in regards to adults and learning development. So, for a positive bent, I plan on writing in an upcoming post about understanding and taking on a “growth mindset.”

As always, feel free to like, follow, comment or contact me, any time.

Lisa

Helpful links & resources:

Grateful or Hateful?

affection appreciation decoration design

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I am working on an in-depth post about new guidelines issued from the American Psychological Association regarding physical discipline i.e. spanking and children.

For now, I wanted to post something that’s less research-intensive. I’ve been thinking about kids & gratitude. Lately, as a parent, I vacillate on how much to push my children to say “thank-you” to me and to others.

Firstly, I’m big on people (all people, not just kids or my own kids) saying “please” and “thank-you” or “no, thank-you.” To me, it’s the least one can do if someone is offering you something or gives you a gift or a compliment. I usually cringe when someone neglects to say thank-you after dinner has been made or a gift given or someone goes out of their way to do something nice.

However, similar to recent expert advice provided on kids & hugging, I am wondering if children should be forced to say thank-you by parents, relatives or teachers. Obviously, saying something verbally isn’t as intensive or invasive as having to hug or kiss a relative or friend but, perhaps pushing children to say something that’s not natural to them, isn’t right either.

Or, have we all become too politically-correct? Isn’t is a parent’s job to teach their kids right from wrong as well as manners and socially acceptable behavior? Usually, I’m steadfast in my thoughts about such things but, as mentioned above, I’m struggling with this lately.

What are your thoughts? Do you “force” your child to say thank-you or write a thank-you card when given a gift or cash? Did that change as they got older? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Yours gratefully,

Lisa

Weighing In on Weighted Blankets

girl sleeping on bed

Photo by Sam K on Pexels.com

This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase any of the items listed, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you or your child deals with insomnia (*raises hand*) and/or sleep challenges due to autism, anxiety or depression, you may have considered investing in a “weighted blanket” to encourage better rest.

Whether or not you’ve tried one, you’ve most likely heard about weighted blankets as they are wildly popular right now. Here is an overview: weighted blankets are regular blankets or comforters filled with, well, weights! These can vary from plastic pellets to metal ball-bearings or chains to engineered heavy foam inserts. The general idea is that the firm pressure from the blanket feels heavy, snug and cozy – allowing people to fall asleep faster and sleep longer.

Proven Results?

Though the idea is meaningful and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that weighted blankets promote better sleep, has it been scientifically proven? The results vary.

The results of a small 2015 study in Sweden can be found in Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. In this scientific study, people of varying ages with insomnia tried out and reported back on their quality of sleep using one particular weighted blanket.

Overall, the results from the study were positive: “…a chain weighted blanket was found to be effective at improving sleep quality in recognized insomniacs, both in parameters measured objectively and subjectively. The impact was more pronounced objectively when the participants reported having a positive experience of using the weighted blanket and if they used sleep medication. No adverse effects of using the weighted blanket were found.”

This is good news. However, I notice that the weighted blanket used by participants is produced by the same company that sponsored the study. This is both curious and worrying.

In another small 2014 New Zealand study, Effectiveness of Weighted Blankets as an Intervention for Sleep Problems in Children with Autism, the results were not as favorable. Unfortunately, in this study, “…Consistent with previous research, the current study did not find weighted blankets to be an effective aid in promoting sleep for children with autism.”

There are other studies of course. And, regardless of their results, it is not to say that a weighted blanket won’t work for you, your child or loved one. But, again, it appears that it is not a “one size fits all” solution.

Options, Options, Options

When it comes to weighted blankets, there are myriad options for weight, size, colour and style.

  • Weight-wise, it seems the most popular categories are: 10 pounds, 15 pounds or 20 pounds. Apparently, one should use a blanket that is 10% of your weight. So, if your child is 100 pounds, buy her a 10 lb. blanket.
  • The outer covering can be made from anything from polyester to satin to bamboo to cotton.
  • Styles/sizes seem to focus on queen or king-size but I am sure singles and doubles can be found.
  • There are myriad colours available but, again, generally I’ve seen mostly grey, brown, white, cream and taupe.

No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn!

I am keen to try one out. Unfortunately, my initial jubilation about purchasing such a blanket has abated.

You see, I had recently spotted an ad for a Canadian-made weighted blanket on a social media site (Instagram I believe) offering a special $15 discount. That was just the push I needed as I was considering buying one anyway. As you may know, they’re not cheap: Including the $15 discount and free shipping, with taxes it was still going to be $241 CAD. I was willing to pay that if the health benefits proved true.

However, sadly, it appears this particular company (I won’t name it at this point) is either unscrupulous, unusually busy or highly disorganized. Their initial estimated shipping time went from “end of January” to middle of February to, now, February 22. I ordered and paid for the blanket on January 15! So, um, no. Suffice it to say that I’ve now called my credit card company and asked them to cancel the payment and the order.

My Kingdom for a Good Night’s Sleep

Have you tried a weighted blanket with positive results or do you have a family member or friend pleased with their results?

If so, please comment or contact me to recommend a company (big or small) from which to buy one. I am still game to try out a weighted blanket. However, as outlined above, I had a negative initial purchasing experience and there are so many options to consider and factors involved.

Should I end up buying one, I promise to provide an update.

Lisa

 

When Children Are Hoarders

This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy the item mentioned here I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

With TV shows like Hoarders still popular and everyone and their dog posting about how they KonMari’d” their kitchen, bathroom or office space, it’s no wonder that clutter (or lack thereof) is a constant source of conversation and consternation.

In the past, I’ve blogged about children & hoarding. One post is by guest blogger and professional organizer, Janine Adams and another is a round-up on the topic. I’ve also written articles about clutter and the art of cleaning up for Esperanza magazine.

For those who aren’t familiar with this phenomenon: According to a University of Florida study by Eric A. Storch et al, “Compulsive hoarding is characterized by the accumulation of useless items, associated clutter, and difficulty discarding hoarded items, which together cause interference in functioning (Frost & Hartl, 1996).”

That’s no surprise. But, according to this study, there might be differences between adults and kids who hoard, namely: clutter may be limited to a smaller area (e.g., the child’s bedroom) and the nature of the hoarded items is more constrained because of limited resources of children.

Interestingly childhood hoarding may also be associated with the following conditions:

  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Do you or your child deal with clutter in bedrooms, cars or homes or, conversely, do you feel you need things to be constantly clean and tidy?

If you do have hoarding tendencies, don’t despair – there are treatments for both adults and children, including resources like the Centre for Mental Health & Addiction (Canada). If you wish, feel free to comment here or contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Lisa

 

Stay Out of It!

unnamed (1)Since both of my children’s birthdays are coming up soon, I’ve been reflecting and feeling melancholy, thinking about their younger days and some of the lessons I’ve learned. 

When my son was younger, say 6 or 7 years old, like many moms, I’d set up or help facilitate play dates for him and my daughter. If anything went wrong, say an argument between the boys or teasing that went haywire, I’d often step in – not as a grumpy “hey, my child is perfect” tiger mom but just to see what had happened and if there was any good solution. Of course I did this with the best of intentions.

I soon learned (with the help of some shy advice from a neighbour) that stepping into your kids’ social life is generally a no-no. Almost always, my seemingly innocent intervention would cause more stress or headaches for my son and his friends.

So, now, unless it’s a really big deal, I try to stay out of it. Yes, it’s hard sometimes and, as he and my daughter grow, there will be times that their father or I will have to get involved. But, I think it’s helped that I can provide advice and support but not march in to “save the day” (which didn’t really work anyway).

What’s your take on getting involved with your child’s social life?

Doctor, Doctor

physician-symbol-hiThis is my final post for the 2015 Blogathon which was hosted by a professional freelance writing group to which I belong.

Thank you to those of you who hung on, read, liked and provided comments during the month. It was an excellent challenge but, truth be told, I’ll be happy to blog less frequently for the next little while.

Today my children and I had a doctor’s appointment. But, before I get to the crux of this post, let me back up for a moment… If you’re American (or, rather, if you’re not Canadian and not familiar with our medical system), you may think that finding a family doctor, booking an appointment, and seeking out appropriate medical treatment is easy-peasy. 

True, most medical appointments, treatments and interventions are “free” (paid for by tax dollars) but finding a family doctor in your area who is taking on new patients is no easy feat. And, booking an appointment with a doctor or specialist can take weeks or months. They’re that booked up!

My doctor works downtown and we are far uptown. Driving downtown, even for a short appointment, is a journey in itself.  Luckily, our doctor is an awesome woman whom we’ve seen for many, many years.  Today, it struck me how complicated medical intervention is for mental health issues.

What's around the corner?

What’s around the corner?

For example, let’s say your child has a broken arm: You drive to emergency, check in, have the arm x-rayed, diagnosed, casted and go to follow up appointments.

Or, let’s say your child has asthma. You have her tested, receive feedback, perhaps get a “puffer” or other medicine and learn to adapt. I realize it’s not always this easy but in many cases an injury or illness can be addressed directly.

Mental health conditions (for kids and adults) are generally never straightforward. Usually, other conditions have to be ruled out because there’s often no 100% accurate diagnosis. Then, even if a disorder is identified, say it’s ADHD or autism or schizophrenia or OCD, the treatment, counselling, meds, follow ups, etc. etc. are often tweaked and changed – possibly over the course of a lifetime.

“Wait and see” can be frustrating and tiresome for everyone involved. Sometimes a clean diagnosis (even for something scary) is less ominous than a “Well, we could try this but…” explanation with no real end in sight. Those of you who live with mental health challenges or parent someone who does will know exactly what I mean!

Perfect Teeth

perfectionMy son was just telling me he has “the worst teeth ever”. This is far from the truth – his teeth are only slightly crooked and will look fantastic once he gets braces put on in the next year or two.

I told him if he had perfect teeth he’d be too perfect as he’s already very handsome. I said this partly to boost his self-esteem but mostly because I believe it to be true: If someone looks or acts too perfect they don’t seem real to me. I have known people over the years who never seem to be in a bad mood and are always smiling or want to see the silver lining in every situation. While I appreciate this attitude for the most part, it can get tiresome. Someone who’s never down or feels guilty or grouchy is suspicious to me – what’s under the shiny coating?! It’s our human nature to exhibit a range of emotions.

How do you feel about looking on the bright side of life? Do you try to find the realism in all situations with your children and/or the young people in your life? How do you balance our quest for perfection with life’s hard knocks? I’m still trying to figure this out myself.

Little Victories

gametime-300x225Playing board games as a family isn’t always the picture perfect TV commercial some might think. At least in our family it isn’t. More often than not, games night (or day) ends in someone crying, yelling or stomping off.

I decided today that we’d play only as much as we could during a rainy day game of Risk. I think we lasted more than an hour when voices rose loud in competition and the energy reached its peak. Some might think it’s a failure to “take a break” and go our separate ways. I think it’s pure strategy. No one gets hurt, there was no yelling or sore feelings and we got to enjoy some creative non-screen interaction for more than an hour.

Hurrah for small victories!

White Knuckle Parenting

Walking up the hill Kortright CentreToday was my kids’ last day of school. While I scratched my head in astonishment that yet another school year had passed us by, I also realized I had to give out the teacher gifts we had purchased and arrange other end of year activities – stat.

Excited to wait at the school door when they exited for the last time this year, the sky boomed with thunder and rain just as I jumped in the car  to pick ’em up (I’m too far to walk to the school). Other parents and grandparents stood by with raincoats and umbrellas trying to say good-bye as we all huddled against the rain.

Both my children are suffering from colds but I thought we should mark this epic occasion in some way so I offered to take them for frozen yogurt. We inched our way through rainy slick traffic only to find the local fro yo shop PACKED full of kids and parents. Sigh… back into the car we went.

We arrived home, the kids dumped their bags, lunch packs, locker paraphernalia and shoes at the front door. We walked up the steps and what do we find? A big pile of cat vomit. Could this day get any better?!

I’m happy to say we turned it around. After a “surprise” dinner (hot dog mushroom bean tomato stew on garlic bread) we tried to rush my son to his baseball game (which was of course cancelled due to the rain). My daughter and I then walked to the LCBO to pick up a bottle of wine for my neighbour who was throwing herself a birthday party. We stopped in, wished her a happy birthday, said hi to neighbours new and old and now we’re home, along with a calm sky.

I hope your kids’ last of day of school is less epic.  Happy summer!