Raising Children

Father-son momentA Mother’s Day Letter to Fathers & Partners

Hopefully you are someone who not only appreciates your own mother but is also open to the idea that assisting your children in honoring their mother is a worthy cause as well.

If so, on behalf of mothers everywhere 'thank you' for caring about this role. Respect for your mother is one of those aspects of family life that is often easier to learn when the message is heard and reinforced by others.

I was reminded of this lesson recently when chatting with a friend who is the mother of five. I asked her what she wanted for Mother’s Day and she said that she had already gotten her present and that it was the best Mother’s Day gift ever. Interestingly it came not from her children but from her husband, on a day when the kids were being rather disrespectful. When her husband heard their sassiness he went on a tirade:

"Don’t talk to your mother like that! She loves you and cares for you and does so much for you! Your mother is the most important person in the world and you should treat her with respect!'"

Of course, her kids weren't crazy about the dress down but it did make them more mindful and it was clearly a message they needed to hear. (As well as see modeled!)

As she told me this story I had to agree that it really was the best Mother’s Day present ever. So this Mother's Day, while helping them write a card or reminding them to get her a gift or call her is wonderful, if you really want to get her a present, here is my suggestion. Go on a mini-rant (or just sit your kids down) and tell them how important it is to appreciate their mother.

Here's to appreciating awesome mothers on Mother's Day and Everyday! ~ Annie

p.s. Dear Everyone Else: Kids need to hear this message many times. Especially if there isn't a second parent in the picture! Relatives? Friends? Teachers? Neighbors? Lady in line behind them at the supermarket? Speak up! The more sources the better!

p.p.s. Dear Moms: Don’t forget that you too have work to do. Starting with self-respect in whether you allow your children to talk to you in certain ways (think consequences) AND whether you try to teach them the skills of communicating what you want them to learn. It helps when you can model that respect toward them and toward their other parent! Here's hoping you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

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There's something about being responsible for another human being that makes most parents prone to fear. Add a child struggling to master a skill - from toilet-training to reading to dealing with stress or being self-motivated to get a job –  and fear can ramp up to over-blown worry and pressure for them to 'get it'.

Sadly, the fear itself can have a negative impact on a child's success so parents take note. If your child is struggling to learn what you think they should (or even if they aren't) here are 3 essentials to remember: ...continue reading

Bully_movieWhat doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I believe this is true with bullying. Taking on a situation where someone is trying to take you down can make you feel stronger. Unfortunately when you aren't successful - whether due to skill, wit, strength or being up against too sophisticated a foe - it can kill you. It can kill your spirit, your sense of self worth or in extreme cases make you think that killing yourself is the only answer. That is why we all need to take this issue seriously.

Recently, I went with my 18 year old son to see Bully a newly released movie that attempts to shed some light bullying and its effects. Here are my thoughts: ...continue reading

bald_beautifulDear Annie,

We have this little cousin 7 years old that has brain cancer and she is getting chemotheraphy every week. She is starting to lose her hair and we do not know what to do or say to make her feel better. She says that she does not want to lose her hair and cries. Please help us and let us know what to do.

~ At a loss over child's hair loss

Dear At a Loss, ...continue reading

girls_and_puberty

Viewer-submitted question from theDear GMA Advice Guru Contest.

Dear Annie: I am the mother of twin pre-teens and I am ready to start navigating the mine field of inevitable puberty. I am amazed that some of their friends have hit puberty at such a young age. How do I best prepare my girls for the changes they will soon see in their bodies? At what age should they first see a gynecologist? ~ Wondering Mom

Dear Wondering Mom, ...continue reading

Christmas presents under the tree

Ahh... School is out and your kids have two weeks for fun, relaxation, getting bored, fighting with each other and spending up to 100 hours on some kind of screen. Sounds like a wonderful 'break'! Especially because that last one - which creates crankier offspring - is the default solution for many kids these days.

Fortunately with a little planning - you can help avoid some of the vacation pitfalls and all have a better time for your efforts. Here is a list of 10 things (from easier to more planned) that can help:

  1. Have a deck of cards with paper and pen on the kitchen table
  2. Have baking supplies handy - muffin or cookie mix ...continue reading

Electronic_Family_Xmas_Card

I know it was a joke. Someone posted one of those Christmas photos showing a dad and three kids all in the same matching jean colored shirts and pants. But in this photo no one is looking at the camera because they are all looking down at some electronic device.

I chuckle for a second until I remember that it's too true to be that funny. There is just something about embracing our weaknesses that bums me out.

But then I remember the good news... ...continue reading

iStockvideogaming

So your child REALLY likes video games. So if left alone, they would play 3, 4, 5 or more hours non-stop. So they resist your attempts to limit their time playing these games or sneak in extra time whenever possible. So you catch them lying or staying up late to play more and being irritable, angry or stuck in a moping mood when not able to play.

At what point do you wonder if this is normal or if it seems more like the signs of a video game junkie?

Part 1: Is Gaming Addiction Real?

A 2008 study from Stanford School of Medicine on video/on-line game playing and the brain found that male participants (more so than female participants) showed activation in the region of the brain associated with reward and addiction. Even many gamers will admit this. In fact according to a survey of over 40,000 gamers "about 50% of MMORPG (Massive-Multi-player Online Role Play Game) players would consider themselves addicted to the game." ...continue reading

Catching your child in a lie can be a troubling experience. Fear of moral weakness, anger at being manipulated or even hurt by a sense of betrayal, parents can react pretty strongly to these transgressions.

But it is important to remember both that it's a rare person who hasn't dabbled in dishonesty and that there's a big gap between telling a lie and being a pathological liar.

How we respond to our children's lying can make a difference in whether this is a stage or a profession. So before you get out that bar of soap or the tabasco sauce, it might help to understand the purpose and development of lying. ...continue reading