Where's the Manual for this Kid?

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Since my mom passed away I have not been the same. Not just because I lost her, but because of what I learned about my two grown sons. I have been in awe of them ever since.

The first thing they each said when I told them of her aggressive cancer diagnosis was, “How soon can I go see her”, halfway across the country. Neither had the time or money and neither gave it a second thought.

They spent an entire weekend devoted to creating last memories with her, building a snowman in her front yard as she watched from inside with her oxygen and cane until she couldn’t contain herself anymore and ran out in socks to have a picture taken with them and the now famous snowman.

They baked Christmas cookies and threw pieces of dough at each other until she joined in laughing. When they had to say their final good-byes, both were incredibly strong.

I raised my boys as President of the Mean Mom’s Club, with a plan to teach responsibility and compassion. Sometimes they called me mean when I refused to give in to things that I knew were unsafe or against the family’s values. This experience taught me that I was successful beyond my highest goals for them. I am in awe of these compassionate young men who are my sons.

In a world where we continually hear about young people getting into trouble and being focused on just themselves, this is a story that needs to be shared.

How did they become responsible and compassionate rather than self-focused? I believe this is learned behavior and I believe that being a “mean mom” with a plan taught them that behavior. No, I don’t mean a mom who is a tyrant or who uses physical punishment. A true mean mom is one who knows from the beginning what kind of person she wants her child to become, creates a plan to get him/her there, and sticks to that plan all the way through, no matter what. That’s not easy to do. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating, and heart breaking at times. But if you have a plan to follow, you can get through it. And when you find yourself looking at such amazing young people as my sons, every hour of lost sleep, every tear, and every gray hair was worth it.

If your goal is to raise kids to be responsible, compassionate adults, you need to plan how you will teach that throughout each stage of their development. As kids grow physically, they also grow emotionally and cognitively. That means they focus on different things in different stages and can only understand certain things at those stages. That means teaching new behaviors and values as they grow.

  • Infants need to feel their needs will be met and that they have a positive social connection.
  • Toddlers need to learn to explore their world and realize others share that world.
    • Keep him safe when his emotions are out of control and keep your own emotions in check to help balance and calm him.
    • Preschoolers need to learn to include others in their world.
    • School age kids need to learn to socialize with different types of people and accept their differences.
    • Teenagers need to learn that other’s needs sometimes come before theirs.
      • Assign responsibilities to younger siblings such as helping with homework.
      • Get them involved in some type of volunteer experience.
      • If old enough, find a part time job, even for a few hours per week.
    • Meet his needs when he expresses them. Making a baby wait teaches only that his needs will not be met.
    • Talk to your baby and keep her in your presence when awake, in a walker, swing, etc.
    • Allow independence but stay close while she explores and learns to be around others.
    • Arrange social experiences, especially if not in pre-school.
    • Focus on the cause and effect of the situation (when you do this, this is what happens).
    • Use logical explanations that include actions and consequences.
    • Involve them in team or group activities.

As you watch your kids grow through each stage, create opportunities to teach them to be responsible and compassionate within their understanding and focus. Plan ahead for what you can provide that matches your family’s values. You will be in awe of the result!

 An interesting article was recently written in support of moms,

advising others of how their comments might inadvertently sound negative and hurtful.

As a mom, I have been the recipient of some of the list of eight and appreciate the support of the author.

I’d also like to add a few of my own.

The article is called Eight Things You Should Never Say to a Mom,

By Charlene Prince Birkeland, Team Mom | Team Mom


Below is the list. Please read the article to review the author’s explanations of how these might be perceived as negative.

 Here are the responses I’d like to make as a mom:

  • “You’re so dressed up!” 

Thanks, this is my running away outfit.

  • “You look so tired.” 

No I’m not. I was reading in Cosmo that this is the latest “look”. It’s that smoky look that’s all the rage. Looks great, doesn’t it?

  • “You must really want a girl.”

After having my second son people often asked if we were going to try for a girl. My response was “Why?”

  • “My son/daughter would love to have a play date with your child. When can I bring him/her over?” 

After I bring mine to your house. We’ll be there Tues.

  • “When did you get so gray?” 

I’m not. It’s the lighting in here.

  • “When are you due?”

A friend of mine got this one from a neighbor. Her response; “I’m not pregnant, just fat.”

  • “When are you going back to work?

 I am at work!

  • “I remember that stage. He/she will grow out of it.” 

We don’t do stages in my house. We do “get through the days” here.

 Here are a few more I’ve encountered:

  • My pet is my baby

There are few things more irritating to a parent than hearing that someone’s dog or cat is their “baby”

  • My child has special challenges. He’s not one of those cookie cutter kids

So because my kids didn’t have special needs they pretty much raised themselves?

  • He’s not potty trained yet?

 You know, I’ve never seen a college student in diapers

  • I read that the way to handle that is…

I read that people who read too much have no time to handle things.


What comments irritate you as a mom?


 Over the years Easter has brought many family memories.

Looking back, here are some of my most memorable ones. What are yours?

  1. Beautiful colors of dye on eggs…and on the table, floor, clothes, faces, and tablecloth I was sure I removed before putting that newspaper down

  2. Making the egg hunt with 2 dozen eggs go on for hours because eggs kept disappearing from baskets (after a certain age, this no longer works)

  3. Dressing up for church; they’re so cute when they’re clean

  4. The smell & taste of delicious ham dinner with all our favorites (topped off with the ears of the chocolate Easter Bunny)

  5. Spending the day in the park with friends & family (best in the years it didn’t rain)

  6. Listening to a choir of candy eggs roll down the wooden floor of church all the way to the pulpit & trying to pretend they didn’t come from my 2 year old

  7. Setting a good example by talking to the minister after service, only to have my 8 year old announce, “That was the boringest sermon I ever heard!”

  8. Finding chocolate eggs in pants pockets, 3 days after Easter

  9. Making egg salad sandwiches for the next week, sneaking eggs that can’t be used because they’re the prettiest

I didn’t say they were all happy memories!

  How many of you have done


  I know I have.

You’re in the grocery store with your young child & open a food item to eat as you shop. I believe every parent has done this at some point. The intention is to pay for the food at checkout of course. But when you’re in a hurry, you’re tired, your child is fussy, you have a million things on your mind, it is possible to forget to show the cashier that wrapper.

Is that shoplifting? Should you be arrested, hauled to jail, and processed as a prisoner with mug shot and fingerprints? For a food wrapper??

Nicole Leszczynski not only experienced this, but one of the most
horrifying experiences a parent can endure: watching her child taken away from her into protective custody.

The story is detailed here http://news.yahoo.com/pregnant-mom-says-sandwich-arrest-horrifying-214407004.html.

As a parent I would be mortified to be caught forgetting to pay for the sandwich. But to be booked as a criminal AND to lose your child to strangers for an unknown amount of time would make me completely hysterical.

Store officials claim they were only following policy. Policy is important, I understand. But I’m struggling to understand how policy could dictate the events that took place in this situation.

What is your reaction? Was the store justified in arresting the couple and taking their child away?

 It’s just a costume,

 or is it?

An Ohio State University group called Students Teaching Against Racism in Society,  or STARS, has launched a campaign against costumes that it believes are racially insensitive. STARS created posters of people dressed as racial stereotypes like Japanese geishas, a Latino wearing a poncho and sombrero, and an Arab terrorist wearing a fake bomb. The posters say, “We’re a culture, not a costume.” Sarah Williams, the president of STARS, told ABC News, “We want to highlight these offensive costumes because we’ve all seen them.”

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for my family. It’s a day when you can be anyone you want to be, emulate your role model, make a statement, or be scary and goulish and gross (I raised boys). It was a light-hearted holiday, just for fun. The group STARS message made me think back to some of the costumes my kids wore and whether they should have been considered offensive.

As a parent, I felt it was extremly important to teach my kids sensitivity, tolerance, and acceptance. So, when my son wanted to be an Indian, was I teaching him insensitivity? Should I have used this as a teaching moment? Certainly some costumes cross the line of negative stereotyping.

I’d like to hear from other parents about what is acceptable for their children’s costumes and how much thought they give to the message costumes send.

Add your  comment, including the ages of your kids. What costumes, if any, would you forbid your kids to wear?

School is out for the summer and the kids are free. Oh boy. Oh no! A kid’s dream, a mom’s nightmare! How are you going to survive?

The answer is to become a mean mom. No, that doesn’t mean to be nasty and negative and lock them in their rooms for the summer. It means to take charge and have a plan that you can stick to.

Watch this TV interview and learn the 3 steps to not just surviving, but making it a great summer with a balance between freedom and structure.

You don’t want to ruin their summer, or yours. So you need to give them some freedom and loosen up some of the structure. But if you want to survive with your sanity this summer, there has to be balance and a plan.

Oh no, what can it mean?

What has society become?

What has this mom done to her innocent little boy?


Absolutely nothing! Promoting transgender lifestyle… seriously??!! Wow. And I thought the homophobics had been hidden away in the closet. Can we throw them in there now & lock the door? There should be room now that the gays and transgenders have been let out.

 Please tell me no one paid any serious attention to this silly ranting about turning a little boy gay because he has pink toe nails. We haven’t really slid back into the dark ages, have we?

 I’d like to check in with my 2 grown sons on this who are, by the way, quite manly and no longer wear pink nail polish or bake in their Susie Homemaker miniature oven. Yes, my sons both had their nails polished as little boys. They wore dress up costumes that might have included their mom’s shoes and jewelry. OK, now don’t storm my home with Monster Mother signs, but yes, they even wore a bit of makeup when they were little to see what it felt and looked like. One of them had a Barbie doll. Horrors!

 When working professionally with kids, a mom once grabbed a toy vacuum cleaner out of the hands of her 3 year old son, saying, “Don’t play with that. It’ll make you gay.” I looked at her and said, “Please tell me you don’t truly believe that!” I promoted anything my boys would do in the way of cleaning & cooking. They need to be able to take care of themselves someday! By the time they were 12 they did their own laundry and took turns making family meals. If this is gay, I’m all for it. I would even be all for it if they cooked and cleaned in pink toe nail polish!

 No, they didn’t paint their toe nails anymore by that age. Why? Because it’s not acceptable in school. However, it is acceptable for boys to wear earrings, eyebrow & nose rings, tongue studs, and flower tattoos. Go figure.

Follow on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Ezine Expert Author

Follow me on Twitter

My Tweets:

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.