Should I take my kid to the Jazz Fest?

The question of whether or not to bring kid(s) to the Jazz Fest comes up every year. When asked, my first response is always a resounding “No,” because I’m selfish and I love the freedom of running around with my husband, checking out new bands, worshiping the old, and hopping around to visit friends, some of which I only see once a year… at the Jazz Fest. All of this is very difficult to do while dragging a little one around because, let’s face it, kids don’t like to walk.

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Having said ALL that, the real answer is Yes AND No.

Yes, you should take your kid to the Jazz Fest, but only for a few hours.

Identity

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of our city’s major cultural events. As a local, it’s important for our kids to be part of our community and appreciate the uniqueness that is New Orleans. The Jazz Fest is part of our city’s modern narrative, and anyone who lives here understands that there is a rhythm and flow to New Orleans life. Jazz Fest, in a way, marks the end of our celebratory season… which is about 6 months long. Exposing kids to their community’s cultural and musical traditions creates a shared identity and a sense of belonging to something bigger.

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Jazz Fest is as much New Orleans as New Orleans is Jazz Fest. Kids need to be exposed to the special parts of our city, even if it’s only for a few hours. Eventually, the sites, smells and feel of the Jazz Fest will sink into their bones and become part of who they are and where they come from. They will be glad you loved them enough to sacrifice your own enjoyment for the sake of their cultural and musical development.

Exposure

Jazz Fest is an opportunity to expose kids to live music. How many kids can say they’ve worshiped in a Gospel Tent or seen musical legends of their time? Even if they don’t appreciate it right now, they will thank you later. Also, music is the kind of stuff that makes kids interesting and smart. It’s important that kids get out of the bubble. Disney isn’t the only thing they should be looking forward to.

Strategy

As parents, we want our kids to experience this cultural bliss and appreciate it as much as we do. Alas, this is not always the case, which is why you really need an in-and-out strategy. Two to three hours is enough for the kids to hear some great music, eat some great food and rendezvous with some friends, so have a babysitter pick them up at the gate so the kids can marinate in their experience (at home) and you can be free to enjoy the adult time without the whining. It’s a win-win. If a babysitter (or some other arrangement) isn’t an option, then cut your losses and leave on a high note as a family. Yes, it is an expensive few hours. You’re either comfortable with that or you’re not.

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Lagniappe (this means “a little something extra… like a bonus)

Something awesome happened to us this Jazz Fest. A girlfriend of mine came up to me at carpool and asked me if Anson, my seven year old, would like to come to the Fest with her family for a few hours to see her son perform at the Kids Tent. Her husband would drop them off at the gate, they would stay for 2 hours and then her husband would pick them up at the gate and bring her home. Anson jumped in their car and headed to the Fest like a big girl. She had a great time. The lesson here is that if someone else wants to bring your kid to the Fest, say YES! There is nothing wrong with your kid experiencing cultural bliss with someone else. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Now for the other side of the coin.

No, you should not bring your kids to the Jazz Fest.

The reason you don’t see too many miserable parents lugging/wearing/strolling around their miserable kids at the Jazz Fest is because they had to leave. If it’s your one day to go to the Fest and you’ve paid a lot of money for tickets and/or travel and you don’t have the luxury of sending the kids home, you do not want to bring the kids. The Jazz Fest is an expensive, all-day endeavor. The odds are not in your favor that your kid is not going to rain on your parade.

But…

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Sometimes the stars align, you find the perfect spot, the kids have a little shade and space to dance and play in the grass, it’s not scathingly hot, there are no torrential downpours, and no one has to potty. If this is you, congratulations. There is something so sweet about having a great Jazz Fest with your kids. It’s one of those beautiful memories that you all will look back on and smile. And the only thing you should leave the Jazz Fest with is a smile.

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5 Steps to Building an Empathetic Child

It can be hard to imagine that egocentric toddlers can, and will, turn into empathetic beings. Just as it is adaptive and developmentally appropriate for very young children to see themselves as the center of the world, as they mature, their perspective shifts and they are able to recognize that others have thoughts and feelings too.

The building blocks of empathy are apparent as early as infancy. Researchers have found that within the first few hours of life, infants will attempt to mimic the facial expressions of their mothers. This simple action reflects primitive wiring for social connectedness and sharing. As babies grow, they begin to understand that people’s actions are not just random and that behind people’s behaviors are reasons and motivations. Furthermore, not only do they recognize it, but many will assist others in achieving their goals. Researchers have observed children as young as 14-months-old attempt to help an adult retrieve an object just out of reach. In two-year-olds, early signs of empathy are shown as the toddler offers assistance by bringing things that are comforting to them, such as a favorite toy or blanky, to someone who they see is upset.

The hard wiring for empathy is present in most normally developing children, but it is not until later childhood that we see displays of empathic concern. Empathic concern is the feeling of compassion and concern for others. That feeling of empathy then often motivates a person to want to help another feel better. For instance, when a playmate’s knee hurts from a fall, your child may feel compassion for their pain and also desire to help them feel better.

As our children transition towards becoming empathic beings, there are many steps we can take to assist in their progress. The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families recommends the following actions:

1. Empathize with your child. Validate your child’s experience and reactions.

For example, “Are you feeling scared of that dog? He is a nice dog but he is barking really loudly. That can be scary. I will hold you until he walks by.”

2. Talk about others’ feelings.

Identify feelings in others through conversation and play. For example, “Gray is feeling said because you took her toy care. Please give Gray back her car and then you choose another one to play with.”

3. Model empathy.

Encourage your child to assist you in your compassionate actions. For example, “Holden fell and hurt his elbow. Let’s get Holden some ice for his boo-boo.”

4. Read stories about feelings – Some suggestions include:

                 

5. Be Patient.

Developing empathy takes time. Your child probably won’t be a perfectly empathetic being by age five (There are some teenagers and adults who have not yet mastered this skill perfectly, either). Remember that empathy is a complex skill that will deepen across your child’s lifespan.

What’s your sign, little Valentine?

My friend, Cari Roy, is a third generation psychic. She’s kinda a big deal and I adore her. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought it would be fun to put together a little cheat sheet for parents and offer some insight into what to get our kids for Valentine’s Day based on their astrological sign.

One of the great things about knowing and understanding your kid’s astrological sign is that it gives you a personality blueprint. Whether you buy into this stuff or not, it’s something to throw in your parenting toolkit for those times you find yourself grasping at straws.

ARIES the Numero Uno (March 21–Apr 19)

As the first sign in the zodiac, your ARIES is your little #1 and extremely conscious of the self (think ME! ME! ME!). They love to be the center of attention and to be fussed over, so consider taking your little girl to get pampered with a mani/pedi or give your best little man a cool Fedora, superman shirt or pink bowtie – anything stylish or slightly flamboyant that is sure to garner him some attention/adoration.

TAURUS the Stubborn (Apr 20–May 20)

Your stubborn, er, strong willed bull has a deep appreciation for all things beautiful. After all, they are ruled by Venus. The Taurus loves music and art, so pick out something that is beautifully designed, or elegant—a lovely journal or beautiful notecards. They love to be soothed by music, so maybe an iPod or an iTunes gift card. The Taurus does not like to be rushed, so maybe a stroll through The Ogden or WWII Museum?

GEMINI the Multi-Tasker (May 21–June 20)

Your little multi-tasker loves gadgets and gizmos, so a gift that he can fiddle around with and figure out how it works is a great idea. The latest tech gadget or video game should be a slam dunk and since Gemini’s are such great communicators, a super cute iPhone case should cover all your bases! Gemini’s are also information sponges so anything that feeds the intellect like a good book on a new and interesting subject, a challenging puzzle, or a game like Trivia Pursuit or Battleship might be fun.

CANCER the Caretaker (June 21–July 22)

Doc McStuffins is probably a Cancer. These little nurturers and caregivers love to play doctor and patch up their dolls. They also love to be in the kitchen cooking with you. Consider a doctors kit or a set of pots and pans. Nurture their nurturing disposition.

LEO the Superstar (July 23–Aug 22)

Your Leo is a superstar and loves the limelight. Take her to the theater, get her some acting classes or give her a microphone ‘cause you’re gonna hear her ROAR!

VIRGO the Perfectionist (Aug 23–Sept 22)

You should never have to tell your little perfectionists to clean her room because she likes to have things in order. Take her to a florist and let her create her own Valentine’s Day flower arrangement. The Virgo child would love a set of stickers and a sticker book or box to keep them organized. Anything they can use to get organized, like a jewelry box, kraft/pencil box or a cool wooden box would be fun.

LIBRA the Peacemaker (Sept 23–Oct 22)

This is the peacemaker of the zodiac. Libras like everything to be harmonious, beautiful and peaceful. They know in utero the difference between a 200 thread count and Egyptian Cotton. Luxe soothes the Libra, so take her to high tea or let him pick out a fancy suit or tie. Also, Libras want to be with their best buddy all the time, so a special playdate at a fancy restaurant might be the perfect treat.

SCORPIO the Detective (Oct 23–Nov 21)

Scorpios are intense, love mysteries, and love solving mysteries even more. Outfit your your little detective with binoculars, a secret treasure box (like those wooden puzzle boxes), send him on a scavenger hunt or find a good mystery book you can read together. The Where’s Waldo books are great, too! For an itty bitty, give her a small box packed in a bunch of bigger boxes – something that she has to keep searching for to get to the end. Her heart will be all aflutter!

          

SAGITTARIUS the Eternal Optimist and Clown of the Zodiac (Nov 22–Dec 21)

Nothing makes a Sag happier than to make others happy. Your little archer is footloose and fancy-free and probably needs a butterfly catcher. The Sagittarius loves to travel so give him a cool backpack, suitcase, or globe. Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire is a great book and Little Passports, a magazine subscription travel program for kids, would be a perfect fit. As lover of animals, especially horses, a My Little Pony will delight her and a cool movie like War Horse or Black Beauty would make for a great family movie night. Or just take your explorer extraordinaire to the zoo! It’s important to note that the Sagittarius is fair to a fault, so that’s something to think about when you’re doling out gifts.

CAPRICORN the Old Soul (Dec 22–Jan 19)

Your family historian is fascinated by history and loves to be surrounded by pictures of family, both now and then. Tell her stories of when she was a baby or give him letters that your grandfather wrote to you while you were away at school or letters from war generals or past presidents. Anything that connects this old soul to the past is sure to delight. For her, a historic paper doll book or an antique tea set (you can pick up some mismatched ones at any antique store for $8) will bring a lot of joy.

AQUARIUS the Child of Tomorrow (Jan 20–Feb 18)

Your little Aquarius may at times seem aloof and detached but it’s only because she’s focused on the future and how she can make the world a better place. Have a family outing to a local food bank, like Second Harvest, to volunteer or help them set up their own food drive. Whatever you do, give your Aquarius something as quirky as he is—something unexpected and out of the ordinary. They love space (probably because it’s as “out there” as they are) so a telescope or map of the stars might be fun!

PICES the Empath (Feb 19–March 20)

Pices children are very emotional and sensitive and considered the most empathetic of all the signs. They pick up on everyone else’s emotions so to balance out their intense and uber emotions, these little feelers need solitude. An aquarium or fish will help to relax your Pices because he can just sit there and stare for hours. If that’s not an option, head to the aquarium late in the day when it’s quiet so you can take your time just staring at the fish together. Take a quick drive to Pass Christian and go for a long walk together on the beach. And on a side note, Cari tells me she’s never met a Pices who didn’t like a good pair of comfortable shoes.

This was definitely one of the most fun posts I’ve worked on. I learned a lot about my kids (Capricorn, Aquarius and Cancer). Cari really nailed them, which is just amazing. If you want to learn more about astrology and how to create your (or your kid’s) own generic horoscope, head over to her website. She offers some useful links for creating your family’s own generic chart, and you can even schedule your own consultation with her.

When I was in my early 20’s, I had my astrological chart done. In retrospect, it see now that it basically gave me a roadmap to the next 10 years of my life. I remember my astrologist telling me that she sees me surrounded by children. I believe her exact words were “Children are everywhere.” She also saw me as a writer and that my future would be filled with words. As a single gal at the time who had never held a baby in her life and who had only recently mastered the art of writing a good email, I couldn’t really imagine my life that way. Today, I have a blog and my life is consumed by the written word, and by virtue of my blog being a parenting blog, I am indirectly surrounded by many children.

Getting my chart done was a wonderful, fun, insightful experience. I can’t wait for Cari to map out my kids’ charts, so that I can have a better understanding of who they are, where they’re coming from, and how I can nurture their nature.

Just another tool in the parenting toolkit.

Family financial planning… and an email to my daughters

My husband and I have decided it’s time to get focused and organized when it comes to our family financial planning. We have lots of plans and need help working toward those plans. As entrepreneurs, our focus has primarily been on building companies and paying bills. We are more than behind when it comes to 401s, 529s and IRAs.

We recently enlisted the help of the most amazing, talented Jude Boudreaux of Upperline Financial. In the two meetings we’ve had with him, my husband and I have had conversations we’ve never had before. Prior to our meeting, Jude asked us to think separately about our own personal vision for ourselves and our family. For example:

If we had everything we needed and all the money in the world, what would life look like?

We took turns sharing our visions with each other. As the chatty one in the family, it felt good to shut up and just listen to what my husband’s hopes and dreams for himself and our family are. He is so hopeful and optimistic–an unexpected reminder of why I fell in love with him in the first place.

Then it was my turn, and he walked away with a greater understanding of where I’m coming from and an appreciation for why it’s been harder for me to articulate my hopes and dreams lately. You see, I’ve been in the trenches running the home operations and haven’t had quite as much mental freedom to dream big.

Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the diapers, the carpool, the doctor appointments, the playdates, the parenting.

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Jude reminded us that in a relationship, there is a Ying and a Yang. The heaven (the dreamer) needs the earth (the grounder) and vice versa. Both are important and energize each other. This made me feel less inadequate. If we were both dreamers, we’d never land anywhere. My role is just as important as his, and I am grateful for his dreams because they inspire me. I think he is grateful that I’m here to make sure his feet touch the ground every once in a while.

The most exciting part of these preliminary exercises about our vision for our future was that we discovered a lot of similarities, shared goals and values. I think we’ve always known in the back of our minds that our ideas for the future were similar, but we never really put them down on paper and discussed them in a safe, nonjudgmental way.

One of the exercises was to think about what we would do if we knew we only had 5-10 years to live. This was my answer:

  • I would start writing letters to my children.
  • I would spend time with my family.
  • I would make things, sew things, be more creative.

Jude was curious about why I would start writing letters to my children.

If I were to leave this earth early, I want my children to be able to read my letters and hear my voice so that they will always have me near. I want them to know how I feel about them and what my hopes and dreams for them are. I want them to know my thoughts on everything from perms (as in don’t get one) to the importance of buying good sheets (even if it’s the only set you’ve got). I want them to know that time heals everything, that tomorrow is always a new day, that love is the only thing that matters and that tattoos are permanent. I want to prepare them for breaking hearts and broken hearts, that the body is a temple and that it is to be honored. I want them to know that in our family, we work hard for everything we have, and that everything we have is to be shared. I want them to know that we are stewards of this earth and that when they feel they are just a drop in the ocean, they can be certain that the ocean would be less without that drop (to quote Mother Teresa).

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Because my husband and I both expressed a strong desire to ensure our children are prepared for a world with or without us, Jude thought the idea of writing letters to our children would be a great way to do that.

Our “homework” was to start writing letters. I created gmail accounts for each girl and I wrote my first letter. I share it with you today in the event you feel this might be something worthwhile. Email is so easy and you can even attach links, photos, videos, etc. Obviously, technology changes so quickly, so I suspect I will have to “upgrade” things to microchip clouds or brain scans but it’s a start.

Read my first email to my daughters.

How do you share your hopes and dreams with your children?

Parenting: feeling control in out of control times

Like many parents, one of my most important roles as a mother has always been to help my children feel safe and secure in the world. I took those first few months especially seriously as I tried to be in tune with my babies’ needs. Whether that meant nursing, soothing, swaddling in cozy blankets, or lots of hugs and kisses, I tried to build within them a sense of trust.

I have always believed that routine was essential and made sure our children knew very early on that they could expect every night, well almost every night, to have bath time, book time, song time, hugs and kisses before I said goodnight and left their rooms.

It was my job to help them feel secure when I dropped them off at school. Even though for some of my kids there were many tears during those first few weeks of school or camp, at some point they learned to trust that when I said goodbye in the morning, they knew I would be there a few hours later to pick them up and bring them home.

But somehow all that planning, scheduling, and secure parenting didn’t prepare our family for the most recent change in our lives: our decision to leave our warm, safe, familiar home and city we love, New Orleans, to the Maryland area where my husband grew up.

My husband and I knew in our hearts of course that the decision was the right one for our family, but quickly learned how difficult it was to try and make our kids feel secure when we felt anything but….

We left on July 29th to live with my in-laws temporarily until we found a house in a nearby neighborhood, where my husband’s job was and where our children would go to school. We actually tried to find a home for the three months leading up to the move, but were not successful. We put all our ‘stuff’ in a storage unit that we packed so tightly we knew we wouldn’t have access to it until we moved into a new home.

We were most blessed to be staying with family in a place where our kids could feel some semblance of order, but it has still been hard… our usual routines were hard to keep with the kids now sleeping in the same room and living out if bins and boxes. Still difficult to hear Liat (age 2) tell us daily that ‘I ready to go home’, clearly confused and clueless that the place she called home was no longer ours. Hard for Adi (age 4) to miss her dolls every day and for Elyon (9) and Itai (7) who ask every day if our new house is ready since they want to be able to invite their new friends over to our home. And not to mention hard for my husband and I to not have any relaxed “couple” time.

And there was the new school experience… the kids loved their new school from the beginning, but often felt overwhelmed by the change coming from a small school in New Orleans to a big school in Maryland.

Over these last few months, I’ve struggled with how to respond to my family.  Telling the kids not to worry or that it would things were going to be ok felt forced. During my weak moments, those words didn’t even feel real.

During this move, I’ve had days where I’ve felt overwhelmed just figuring out how to get to the nearest gas station and missing my old community in New Orleans. And there are other moments that I’ve felt completely in control navigating new streets and figuring out which pediatrician practice will actually take new patients.

It’s been three months since our move and we are definitely not settled. It finally makes sense to me why moving is among the top three hardest transitions up there with marriage and death. When you move and leave all that is familiar, it’s quite scary to settle in a new place, make new relationships, and feel grounded.

And it’s not like anything is so terrible. In fact, everything has been a blessing. We have only met warm, inviting, and welcoming people and have found a great house we will hopefully move into soon. Not to mention the fantastic school our kids attend daily. What a blessing.

It’s just hard because adults, like kids, want to feel safe, settled, and in control. I guess I could choose to smile and tell my kids it will all be great just to put them at ease. But I think what’s been helping them the most and is the more honest response is teaching them how to express their anxieties and validate how hard big changes are, even for adults.

I want my children to know that we will continue to adjust together, as a family, even if it takes a while.

Kindergarten Readiness Forum

The Kindergarten Readiness Forum is designed to demystify the kindergarten enrollment process and reduce stress for families going through the application process. A panel of experienced local professionals will discuss the best ways to prepare oneself and one’s child for a successful transition into kindergarten. Topics include:

  • social adjustment to a new school and classmates;
  • what a child is expected to know when entering kindergarten;
  • how to ensure one’s child receives all the services he or she needs; and
  • the testing and acceptance process.

Panelists will be available to answer questions after the program.

PANEL PARTICIPANTS:

Alisa D. Dupre’ – Audubon Charter School, Admission Director/Operations Manager

Deb Marsh – Community Day School, Director of Admissions

Steve Salvo – Director of Admission and Marketing, Trinity Episcopal School

Chris Gogreve – Jewish Community Center Nursery School, Pre K teacher

Janine Murry – Lusher Charter School, Kindergarten teacher

Stacey Gengel, Ph.D – Psychologist

FACILITATOR:

Sharon Pollin, MS, Ed.D. candidate – Community Day School, Head of School

The program is free of charge and open to the public. The Kindergarten Readiness Forum is hosted by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and the Community Day School and will be held at the JCC’s Uptown campus, located at 5342 St. Charles Avenue.

For more information, contact Adrienne Shulman at 5048970143 or adrienne@nojcc.org.

A new parent’s leap of faith

Eyes tightly closed, a smile crosses your face, the anticipation in the air is palpable as you let go of your security and plunge head first into the unknown. I like to refer to this as a leap of faith.  Although the unknown can be intimidating, it can also be exhilarating.

The first time I thought I saw it was watching my one-year-old daughter, Lily, as she attempted her first steps.  I quietly watched her from the sidelines, feeling so proud of her. I was also hoping that she would open her eyes to see how far she had already gone and the obstacles of toys scattered around seemingly there to cause her to stumble. As a parent, this was new to me but Lily’s leap of faith felt familiar. Then it hit me. The look on Lily’s face as she was blindly navigating this new world was the same look my husband and I had when we left the hospital to take our newborn daughter home–a beaming smile paired with nervous anticipation as we jumped into the unknown life of parenthood.

So ultimately my daughter and I were both taking this thrilling leap into the unknown, a new adventure.  Neither of us questioned our leap, because when we landed, we were embraced with a sense of fulfillment, pride and love. Her leap landed her in the arms of her proud mommy.  Mine left me in a place that has made me truly happy as Lily’s mom.

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Pregnancy and parenthood can be a time of nervous anticipation. I receive countless questions/comments/concerns from expecting and new parents who are still holding tight their security.  My advice is to let go and take the leap of faith because ultimately whether the nursery is as vintage chic as you pictured, your baby shower is as beautiful as you imagined, or you get that trendy stroller you had your heart set on, the leap is one that will be treasured and remembered for a lifetime.

Conversations with a Two Year Old

If you had to submit a transcript of a conversation you had with a two year old and then two adults read the script back to you, what do you think you would hear?

If you haven’t heard of Convos with my 2yo, you’re missing out on some really good belly laughs. Convos is a YouTube series of actual conversations between a dad and his 2yo daughter, Coco, as re-enacted by himself and another full grown man.

These hilarious clips of actual conversations give us some really great insight into the mind of a child. Simple, black and white and dead serious. Here are a few of my favorite episodes. Can you relate to any of these?

She’s not your wife, she’s the princess.

Because I’m naked, I’m the Boss.

One more cookie.

What was the last ridiculous conversation you had with your kid?

How we say things, matters.

When I was a little girl, if something needed to get done, I did it. Usually this centered around changes to my room. I liked taking ownership of my room and my parents didn’t seem to mind. Although, I’m not sure how they could have been so busy that they didn’t notice their little girl walking upstairs with a hose so she could siphon the water from her water bed and out the bathroom window, but whatever.

Disclaimer: waterbeds were very popular in the 80s.

I’ve noticed that my daughter, Anson (6), is starting to really enjoy her room–she has a new desk for homework, a secret cubby to keep important things safe from her sisters, she appreciates the utility of having a door so she can communicate important information to family members, and she has artwork and pictures hanging on her wall.

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The other day she decided that some of the wall art in our hallway would be better suited hanging on her wall. Unbeknownst to me, she made the switch. I was proud. I told her that I really liked what she did with the pictures. She seemed a little surprised (maybe she thought she’d be in trouble?), but then gave me an eager smile.

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Before bed that night, she looked at me and said:

Mommy, I really like it when you compliment me when I change my room around.

This was an ah-ha moment for me. I realized that how I say things matters. Now, instead of always telling her “awesome!” or “that’s so great!” or “good job!” I say things like:

I notice that you’ve been putting your dishes in the dishwasher lately. Thank you. It really is such a great help.

Hey, thanks for always putting your shoes by the door.

You’ve been getting yourself dressed in the morning. What a great new habit! It makes your mornings easier, doesn’t it?

I can tell you’ve been working hard to keep track of your things. Well done.

Anson seems more confident in her movements around the house, and by being specific about the things I notice her doing (and want her to keep doing), she’s starting to figure out what our family expectations of her are and how life inside these walls is supposed to work.

Actually, I think we’re all starting to figure things out a little more. 

How do you encourage the positive behaviors you see in your kids?

2 great book recommendations for the modern dad

When I wrote the post Motherhood: job or relationship, I had actually intended it to be a post about the father-child relationship. Although we’re three kids and six and a half years in, as parents, my husband and I play very different rolls and have had very different experiences.

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When my first daughter was born, I decided to put my career on hold so that I could stay home. I knew my limitations. As a result of being home with my children, I developed an intimate understanding of their daily rhythms and routines–how their days and nights flow, when they’re at their best, when they are most vulnerable, when they fight, when they flight, etc.

Because of this, I have learned to choose my battles. I am willing to tread lightly at times so to not awaken the beast and I do not feel that doing so is an act of defeat. I am generally comfortable allowing my kids to act their ages because I’ve learned to detach from certain behaviors (temper tantrums, outbursts, fighting, temporary personality disorders). In other words, I don’t have to suffer just because they’re suffering but I am here to diffuse, guide, coach, encourage, referee, console, hold, kiss, love, offer logic and rational, direct and redirect. And I’m happy to help. They’re little people with developing minds and bodies trying to navigate a big, confusing world.

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t have the luxury to easily detach because he isn’t privy to the giggling, good manners or sibling love fests that occur throughout the day that make it easy to forgive and forget the visits to crazy town. After a long day at the office, all he wants to do is come home to his three little girls who worship and adore him. What he gets is something very different. The witching hour can be so ugly in our house that sometimes I wonder why he doesn’t have more “client meetings” after work. I can only imagine how frustrating and disappointing this might be for him.

Barbara Leblanc, Director of The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital, made some great book recommendations for the modern father trying to balance work and home life, understand his role as parent and establish healthy and fruitful parent-child relationships.

measureThe Measure of a Man by Jerrold Lee Shapiro, Ph.D. explores the profound effect a man’s relationship with his own father has on his parenting style. The chapter Barbara specifically pointed out as rather poignant: Why Can’t a Father be More Like a Mother. This book also reveals how mothers can sometime interfere, or hinder, a father’s relationship with his children. Men and women are different, so naturally we will parent differently. And that’s okay.

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Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family by James Levine, Ed.D., Director of the Fatherhood Project and Todd Pittinsky, reveals how closely interconnected a father’s work and home life actually is and how both play important rolls in the health of family relationships and work productivity.

My husband was very grateful for these book recommendations.

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