Where's the Manual for this Kid?

Archive for the ‘Support’ Category

 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?


 These are disturbing things I’m seeing in the news lately:

• A judge removed a breastfeeding woman from his courtroom

• Facebook deleted thousands of photos of breastfeeding mothers

• Stores have thrown mothers out for breastfeeding

Why? Why is this being allowed? There is no law that prohibits public breastfeeding. None. In one case the police who removed a mother from a store even admitted it was not against the law, as he was removing her; and she went!

This is what I don’t understand. Why are moms not refusing to go?

Moms did rebel and make a point to Target by staging a “sit-in” so to speak to publicize the issue. That was positive.

But why did the mom leave in the first place? There was no need for her to interrupt meal time for her infant.

If people have a problem with breastfeeding, it’s THEIR problem.

A man named Steve, at The Huffington Post commented, “This does not belong on TV or in public, it is gross.”

Excuse me?? It’s GROSS?? How is the act of feeding your hungry child gross? I say to Steve, “Grow up!”

Sesame Street has been able to handle the “grossness” of breastfeeding in the past as the natural healthy function that it is. But now, Sesame Street is under the gun by the Steves of the world not to teach kids about the most nutritious way to feed their new siblings.

So, what should we tell little Johnny about why the new baby is hiding under a blanket in mommy’s arms, that she’s playing hide n seek? Give me a break!

It’s the Steves of the world, with their neurotic hang-ups, that are dictating policy not to allow public breastfeeding. But it’s also the Steves of the world who are perfectly ok with displaying a naked woman on a magazine cover, with her arms covering only the tiniest of areas, in the front of a 7/11 store rack. Another mom and I went to that store & demanded that the manager put the magazine in the back so our 14 yr old sons didn’t see it when they came in for slurpies. The manager looked at us as if we were nutsy moms & placated us to get us out of his face. That same manager would be “grossed out” I’m sure by a mom coming in with her infant totally covered & breastfeeding. Why are we ok with that??

Come on, moms. Next time someone gives you a dirty look as you’re feeding your baby, smile sweetly & turn away. Next time a store employee asks you to go somewhere else, kindly decline their suggestion & turn away. Support Sesame Street in teaching breastfeeding by telling them you agree.

Do not let the Steves of the world & their immature hang-ups dictate policy because they’re grossed out!

 Waiting to pounce.

  She instills fear in me, and I’m an adult. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the kids growing up in this jungle of danger. They must have been constantly on the alert for the crouching tiger to attack. They must have been putting all their energy into trying to live up to ever rising expectations, trying to earn the conditional love of the one person who should be giving them unconditional love.

 This crouching tiger believes that the way to help her kids reach their potential, which is every mom’s goal, is to push them unmercifully, belittle them for less than their best, and withhold love as punishment. How sad that this will accomplish her goal but at the same time raise kids who will never feel secure, never be able to love unconditionally, and in fact not reach their potential no matter how many A’s they earn or how many hours they practice to perfect techniques.

 This is why. The researcher, Abraham Maslow, in a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation, identified a hierarchy of human needs that must be met, in sequential order, to reach full maturity.

 The hierarchy consists of five levels. If we are not provided the critical needs of each level, we cannot progress effectively to the next one, thus interrupting the process of becoming a fully mature adult. The levels are:

  1.  Physiological – food, water, shelter
  2. Safety – security
  3. Love, Affection –belonging
  4. Self-esteem – confidence and value
  5. Self-actualization – ability to find your passion

 This mean mom’s philosophy is that it is our job as parents to provide the first three levels in order to enable our kids to progress to the last two. The first is physical, the most basic needs for survival.

 The second is provided by setting realistic, consistent boundaries that help kids feel safe and secure. This is the foundation of the mean mom philosophy, feeling safe and knowing they can count on their parents no matter what.

 The third level needs to be woven into the first two continually. Love and affection are so important to our survival that we will not mature as healthy adults without them. The mean mom philosophy includes love and acceptance of each person even when their behavior is not acceptable. The behavior may be bad, the kid is not. No behavior will ever be so unacceptable that it warrants withdrawal of love and affection. The toughest thing I’ve dealt with in working with families is seeing the terrible impact this has on a child. This is the Tiger mom’s weapon in trying to push her children into reaching their potential. It is the equivalent of the predator lying in wait to pounce on the prey and destroy it because it’s weak.

 Kids who grow up with this kind of conditional love and rejection of affection will learn to get better grades and will work hard to reach the goal that someone else sets for them. That may sound like enough. But look again at Maslow’s five steps. By crouching like a predator and attacking, the parent destroys the ability to become confident in themselves, feel value for who they are, and find their own passion in life. They will always look for external direction and reward, relying on that to determine their worth and who they are as human beings.

 So while the tiger mom proudly holds up the perfect grades and rejects the creativity that may not meet her sense of potential, her kids are learning to work for conditional acceptance and external reward, thinking that’s all there is. What a shame.

 As a mean mom, I’m very proud of my grown kids who may not ever have made straight A report cards, but who are creative thinkers and self-motivators working toward their own passions.

Have you ever met someone that just struck a cord…like you needed to know that person and s/he just came along at the right time?  That was the case with meeting Maureen, aka Mean Mom President.  Having already seen one of her TV segments that left me very intrigued, I happened upon her online! Soon she became a sponsor http://sandiegobargainmama.com/business-spotlight/mean-moms-club to San Diego Bargain Mama.com and shared with my mom circle her awesome book.  Seeing that indeed we live in a small world, I found that she just lives down the street and was headed to the same meetup (good ol’ social media)! I was eager to share with her some headway I was making with my 5 and 7-year-old kiddos and asked her thoughts on the matter during the drive. 

 I recall Maureen asking me to tell her what one character trait I wished most of all to instill in my kids/family.  My instant answer: “Integrity”.  Fast forward to earlier this month.  I was compelled to tweet out to her that my DD (Twitter talk for dear daughter) for the second year in a row was chosen as the student of her class to receive the Integrity Award.  I had to hashtag that I was one “#proudmama”!  I shared this with my girl’s current teacher who said she got the chills.  How cool is THAT?

 In reflecting on HOW I have consciously instilled integrity in my kids, I would love to share one thing: Just as self-esteem isn’t really taught, I believe that integrity is, rather, instilled and modeled during teachable moments. 

 Instilling integrity means:

  • Showing compassion toward others, yet also
  • Discerning and modeling appropriate behavior in various circumstances.

 This requires:

  • Demonstrating how to be honest and honorable and, key for little ones…
  • Having them demonstrate and witness self-control.

 We do this by:

  • Guiding our kids to choose wisely in situations, and also by…
  • Sharing our (as parents) decisions and what led us to make them. (discussing how our actions impact others, putting ourselves in others’ shoes).

 Some of my everyday examples of “teachable moments” include: 

  • My husband and I owning up to our quarreling and having us “rewind” to model conflict resolution (yes, in front of the kids)
  • Having our daughter turn in money she found
  • Encouraging her to brainstorm suggestions to help with her “wandering eyes” during class spelling tests
  • Enforcing an age-appropriate chores checklist
  • Walking her little brother to his classroom line each morning, etc. 

 When I see her demonstrating integrity I ask her what part of integrity she thinks she just modeled and let HER say what she is proud of (ownership) vs. my assigning it. 

 The cool part is that she can now identify it in others and model it for her younger brother (who has a problem sneaking M & M’s from the trail mix bag in the pantry)!

Learn more about the San Diego Bargain Mama at http://sandiegobargainmama.com.

Cornerstone Schools in Detroit are setting very high expectations for their students. And the students are meeting them. CNN featured this unique charter school system in which students attend 11 months of the year and attend mandatory after school programs. College banners for Yale and Harvard are visible along the hall walls. 95% of students in this depressed inner city area graduate high school! Why? Because it’s expected!

 Now, we can’t send our kids to Cornerstone schools but we can set the same high expectations in the schools they do attend, even if those schools don’t.

 I was told by several of my son’s middle school teachers that they reduce assignment grades by one letter for each day an assignment is late. If it doesn’t get turned in at all, the student can do extra credit to make up for the missed assignment. My response to that? I wrote a letter to all his teachers and the principle instructing them to give him an F if an assignment was not turned in on the due date. Then they were to call me and tell me the assignment so I could make sure he did it, even though he would receive an F. They were instructed not to allow extra credit for poor grades. The expectation is Do the Work Well When it’s Due! It didn’t matter what the school policy was. MY policy was to be followed and my son knew exactly what was expected. And if he failed the class, he took summer school, no questions asked.

 It’s our job to set expectations for our kids and to make sure others support them. The notion of rewarding kids for expected behaviors never made sense to me. You’re expected to get up in the morning, to do your chores, to do your school work. Another school was reported to pay its students, yes with cash, for showing up for school every day of the semester. What?? Can you see me jumping up and down screaming while watching that one? What are they thinking??

 We will achieve what we’re expected to achieve. Our kids need to know what we expect and we need to be sure those expectations are met, not just for school but for all the values we want them to learn.

When you were sent home from the hospital with that beautiful new baby, they gave you some diapers & baby shampoo.

Did you get the manual?

 I looked all over for mine when I got home and that beautiful baby was screaming, but I never found it. I was in big trouble. There was no time to read the books on theory of whether to let a baby cry. I had to figure it out myself and quick. So I decided to do what I believed was right for my baby and my family.

 Later when that beautiful baby was toddling around knocking things over and biting the other toddlers, I again looked for that manual.

Nope, still not there.

What does the latest advice tell us to do? I don’t know. I’ve been too busy to read it. I needed to come up with something now. So I did, based on what made the most sense for my kid and my family.

 Over time I ran into this manual dilemma again and again;

when my 10 yr old refused to do homework, when my 13 yr old said she hated me and slammed the door, when my 16 yr old took the car without permission to go to the mall.

 What I realized eventually was that I was writing my manual as I went. And as I did that, I realized it was based on a set of rules that I could adapt as my kids grew.

 Here are the rules I followed no matter what the situation:

  • I can’t do it all. I need a support network and I have to use that support network
  • Kids go through stages of development physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Boundaries have to be realistic or they won’t work.
  • The basis for absolutely every boundary & decision is safety and security.
  • There’s a place for discipline and a place for teaching. Think about the goal of the situation, whether to stop an unsafe behavior or promote a new behavior.
  • Remember the goal to raise responsible, compassionate kids. Sometimes less is more!
  • No matter what boundaries I set, the key is ALWAYS sticking with them consistently. There lies one of the biggest challenges of parenting. It’s exhausting but crucial.
  • Don’t give up authority when working with other authorities such as medical or educational professionals. They have expertise but no one knows my kids like I do.

 I hope that by sharing these rules I can save other parents some frustration. If you have a plan for how you’ll deal with things, it takes the emotion out of the situation and saves you from second guessing yourself; both huge energy savers in a job that takes a tremendous amount of energy! And if you have a plan, the kids have no ammunition with which to fight back…and YOU WIN!


She’s too young. But, of course she loves it. What do you do?


Your tween daughter comes home from a friend’s house wearing heavy makeup. It looks atrocious and she’s too young. But, of course she loves it. What does a mean mom do?

 Tween is the key word here. Never, Never tell your tween that she can’t do something, especially if she already has! Not unless you enjoy all-out battles that no one is going to win.

 Here is what a mean mom does instead.

  • Ask her what shade that lipstick (or eye shadow or whatever) is.
  • Tell her that you just saw one at the counter of some cosmetics store that you think would be perfect for her skin tone.
  • Don’t tell her you don’t like the one she chose. Offer to take here there & check it out.
  • Of course what you’ll find at the cosmetics department is not only more appropriate makeup, but a makeup consultant who can work with her to tone it down. They make you feel special and beautiful and that’s what she’s ultimately aiming for.
  • Of course offer to buy the new makeup.

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