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Like many families, the horror of what happened in Manchester, UK at the Ariana Grande show has dominated conversation in our house. We are music fans and concert goers and this senseless attack hit us hard. The images of mostly teenage girls running, injured and scared while their parents were frantic, are devastating. So we talk. We talk not only about the news as it comes in, but also about "now what?" And we came up with a plan.
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We want to prepare and protect our child against something dangerous. Our protective role is clear. So the truly complicating factor that makes talking to your children about divorce so difficult is that the parents are the source of the pain.
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As a child and family therapist I have been assisting parents in having difficult conversations with their children on a variety of topics. As a parent I have had to have these same conversations with my own children.
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I guess one could say that my professional background makes me well qualified for this parenting job, but I must admit that I have had my fair share of humbling moments when it comes to parenting. Sometimes I have moments when I feel I rock it as a parent, and then other moments when I hang my head and know I could have handled something much better. Yes, there is certainly room for improvement.
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Nothing can cause an argument faster in a group of parents than when someone brings up sleep training. Opinions range from "do it as early as possible" to "only terrible parents sleep train." With so many myths about sleep training out there, who do you believe? Let's examine the eight most common myths about sleep training and see what holds up.
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Parents model behaviour to their children, and children watch very closely. My dad taught me not to give money on the street, but if someone asked, we should treat them with complete, sincere dignity and take the time to offer them whatever it is they need. It can be inconvenient -- taking a stranger out for lunch and hearing their story, spending an extra 5 minutes buying someone groceries, giving someone our own mittens in the dead of winter, or perhaps giving someone a ride that is out of our way.
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Navigating safe online behaviour has become a huge concern for parents of kids today, as they try to find the balance between allowing their children to access online information for fun and for educational reasons, while protecting them from being taken advantage of by sexual predators and other online risks, from a very early age.
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I feel that parenting is my responsibility, but I do not feel that my role of mother or wife or daughter is my purpose. I do not feel my role of counsellor or teacher, author or business woman is my purpose. My purpose does not feel as though it can be defined by a role, any role, in my life.
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I was just a little girl, but you had a barbed tongue. Oh, you always couched your cruelty in humour. As if comedy was a disinfectant that redeems meanness. Time and again, I asked Mommy, "Please, tell Daddy to stop teasing me. It hurts my feelings." But you wouldn't or couldn't stop.
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Have we told you lately that we love you? Have we told you lately that we appreciate all that you do? Because we do. We really, really do. Have we mentioned that your strength, dedication and tenderness never cease to amaze us? We want you to know that the love that you show all of us never goes unnoticed.
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"Careful" is a helicopter parent's mantra. These kids have grown up in the shadows of fear, always too afraid to take risks, too cautious to make sound decisions alone and too callous to stand up for themselves as they have never had to. In their childhood their parents made all their decisions and as young adults they have no clue how to fend for themselves.
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I realize now that you're not coming from a place of goodness. You don't like that I'm not complaining, that I'm not struggling, that I'm not suffering. You can't stand the fact that I am actually enjoying my role as a full-time mom.
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Our children need to develop and equip their own tool box -- we cannot do it for them. This is not our job, nor should we be trying to make our children's happiness and success our goals. This generation of parents is much too eager to do their children's work for them, and therein lies the problem.
We have one dad in boy's baseball who, when asked to help out as volunteer umpire, was happily willing to bend the rules in favour of his child's team. What sort of example do you set for your child when he sees his dad make clearly incorrect calls to ensure his team wins?
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We are doing a huge disservice to our kids. We are raising a generation of children who are going to be incapable of succeeding in the modern era. They are being taught to be egocentric and to give up, often before even trying.
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Alyson Schafer takes a look at modern parenting, revealing what we're doing wrong.
I have had a few daycare kids whose parents did not teach them how to climb stairs. Ever. The thinking was that stairs were dangerous. Of course they are dangerous. That's why, if my daycare kids have the use of their legs, they need to learn to climb them. As soon as a kid learns to walk, we head straight to the stairs.
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As much as we want to sit and communicate with our spawns of Satan, to talk it out, to discuss the situation calmly and rationally, they will stare blankly over your head, at the wall behind you, at the fly on the window and then insist they were listening. Ask them to repeat back what you just said and it's instant amnesia.
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Telling a parent not to worry is a lot like telling somebody not to hold his breath underwater. You could be the most easygoing person in the world up until the precise moment you become a parent. Suddenly a giant sinkhole of awful possibilities appears out of nowhere.
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As a mother, I still check my kids' candy each year, just like my parents did. But nowadays, I'm thinking beyond the safety of the children sitting right in front of me. I'm considering the millions of children who helped produce ingredients for the chocolate bars and colourful candy. My heart feels desperately guilty as I remember how they may have been harmed.
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What is the original invitation to play? The word "yes." I just need to stop saying no. So when my kids grab at the bag of oatmeal, I remind myself to give them a measuring cup and bowl and let them mess up my floor.
This well-intentioned and much dreaded talk can quickly become complex, complicated and extremely awkward. Parents often avoid the topic, or approach it as if it is an item on the "to do list" that must be done as quickly as possible and then checked off.
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Kids' demands for fairness can be the ultimate challenge for any tired adult, especially when they can't see how all the pieces fit together. But their inherent sense of justice can also be a real gift, especially if we can show them how fairness can change the world.
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We experience our greatest joy when we are in the moment, and we are truly present in our lives. From a place of presence we can connect with ourselves and others. It is time to unplug from my technology and plug back into my actual life. So this summer I have a plan to dig in deeper, go outside, and stay present and reconnect with what is truly important.
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The problem for many parents is that they want to become friends with their children, rather than heroes. Our children do not need more friends, and they certainly do not need their parents competing with their friends for their attention. But as a hero, you can find a way to transform challenge into growth.
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The truth about chocolate is tough to swallow. My heart aches for the two million children, mainly in West Africa, who work on cocoa plantations. Far too many of them toil under slave-like conditions, forced to handle dangerous chemicals, and swing machetes sharp enough to maim. Most are paid next to nothing. Some are abducted from their homes and forced to work for free without the opportunity to go to school, forfeiting dreams for the future.
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I was one of those women who proudly proclaimed, "I bottle fed my kids and they're all fine." And they are fine. The thing is though, now that I work as a postpartum nurse, a great percentage of my time on the unit is spent teaching and assisting new moms. And I get breastfeeding now. I totally could have rocked this gig. But I didn't because I was too tired.
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You're finally out the newborn stage, adjusting to your new normal (and maybe even fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, your sleepy, somewhat predictable little one turns into a fussy, four-month-old all-night party animal. Welcome to the infamous four month sleep regression.
Allow your children time to grieve and remain open to ongoing conversations after the big announcement. If your children are asking you questions, this is positive. Encourage further conversations and be open to their questions, thoughts, and feelings. You may want to consider setting up a time for the children to talk with a therapist at some point.
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In the next few days, like many, I'll resolve to eat better, sleep more, exercise more, swear less, spend less, and keep the garage neat and tidy. I'll probably find these resolutions hard to uphold. There is, however, a promise I make every year, one that I work very hard at keeping. On January first, and on the 364 days that follow: I will resolve to try and help children become better thinkers. The problem isn't a lack of good intentions on our part. The problem is that we sometimes overlook some of the finer points of "good thinking" when teaching it to youngsters.
Children may worry they are being disloyal if they start to have too much fun with one parent. They also worry about the parent that they are not with, wondering if that parent is okay. Sometimes they just deeply miss the parent they are not with. The familiar traditions may be gone and this can leave the children feeling as though something or someone is missing.