Archive for Empathy

Today – modern villages are needed to raise a child

eight-babies

Not too long ago, I was presenting a parenting seminar at a local mom’s group. At the end of the discussion a very pretty and very pregnant mom raised her hand. “Does it get any easier?” In unison, all the moms in the room said, “Yes!”

It turned out this teary, exhausted mom was two weeks away from having her fourth child and busy caring for her five-year-old, three-year old, and 18-month old children, with no help.

I knew this community, and interestingly part of the town’s name was ‘the village’ so helping was second nature to them. Going out on a limb, I asked this mom if she had ever been on the ‘giving’ side. She nodded and explained how she had run a program at church that helped members in need.

Why is it easy to help others, yet difficult to ask for help?

As the African proverb suggests, it does take a village to raise a child. Today’s villages use modern tools such as Google Calendar. Volunteers sign up to make meals, coordinate trips to doctors and guarantee sufficient coverage. For families dealing with family illnesses, or financial struggles the situations are tough, but not insurmountable. They are in temporary need of help and fortunately, people rally to their aid.

Other families that need help are high profile such as ‘Jon and Kate plus 8’ and next we’ll meet The Hayes Family on TLC’s ‘Table for Twelve’ but because collectively, we like these families, they get help from sponsor companies providing vans, homes, diapers, juice, clothes, etc.

Compare that to Octomom, where simple math meets complex issues.

The simple math is:
• 0 job for the sole breadwinner
• 1 single mother
• 6 siblings
• 8 newborns
• 14 children in total
• 15 minutes of fame

The complex issues are:
• Should someone lacking the financial means have 14 children?
• Who was a right to say how many children someone can have?
• Should a potentially dangerous medical situation be allowed?
• What about everyone else who would love to have more children, but feels financially restricted have to pay for someone else’s decision to have 14 children?
• When and how often should a child advocacy agency step in to check on the care the children are getting?
• Who are we to judge?

For now, I hope the surrounding community and sponsor companies help, despite the fact that Nadya Suleman is hardly an ideal spokesperson. It’s not about her; it’s about the babies, and their needed care. Much like a teenage pregnancy, the situation is not ideal.

The controversy and questions will go on, and babies will do what they always do, grow and thrive while the adults are busy talking. We have to realize even though we seriously question her state of mind, and her ability to handle this tremendously difficult situation, she is after all, their mother.

Be kind for everyone you meet if fighting a hard battle. – Plato

Advertisements

Comments (1)

Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.

Comments (2)

Mom’s Job Description vs. Celebrity Mom’s Entourage

We applaud as they sit on Oprah’s couch just weeks after giving birth back to their svelte bodies as they tell us how wonderful motherhood is. They are celebrity moms, and babies are the new ‘must have’ accessory.

The reason they are svelte and showered is because the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has a totally different meaning for celebrity moms. They gush about the joy of having children, as we somehow do without the personal trainer, nutritionist, dietician, stylist – and let’s not forget round-the-clock nannies, housekeepers and nurses that take care of the kids. We’re lucky if we get to use the bathroom alone.

We suffer from ‘momnesia’ where we lose our memories because so much attention is spent on the children. We’re putting a load of laundry in as we get dinner started, homework checked, schedule doctors visits, and fundraise for little league all of which begins after we get home from work. And Microsoft invented multi-tasking?

Our prizes are not awards and our outings are not on the red carpet where the paparazzi fights to take our pictures. But we forever have the mental images of the parks, games, concerts, school plays, graduations and family dinners as we’re blessed with the most wonderful gift – each other.

Remember, we’re in this together so the next time a three-year-old is having a meltdown at the checkout line at Target, ask the mom if she needs a hand. Let’s not judge each other’s choices about working or staying at home, or how we spend what little time we have. Just give a nod, a smile and sometimes an encouraging word – after all, we share the world’s greatest job title – Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Tina Nocera
Founder, Parental Wisdom

Leave a Comment

Beating the Bullies

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is estimated that each school day, over 160,000 children stay home because of bullying.
Since many of us have experienced some form of bullying we know that the power of the bully is diminished when there are no followers.

Each day, when your child leaves for school remember to give them a hug to let them know they are loved. In a more subtle way, encourage their own personal power, and as you discuss the kind of a day they had over dinner, listen carefully to what they say and know when to step in when they need you.

Here is a high school student’s college admissions essay that I had to share:

“If I held the thermometer tightly in my hands, I could raise the temperature just enough so that I could stay home from school without my parents being concerned enough to take me to the doctor. This worked in the past, whenever I felt the need to fake an illness to get a break from being teased at school.

I had resigned myself to the fact that the teasing had to be my fault. Perhaps I should have raised my hand less when I had the right answer. Perhaps I should have laughed at the joke, even if I didn’t think it was funny. It was about fitting in. Although it was fairly constant, the teasing was subtle, too subtle to report without making me sound like a wimp.

One day everything changed. It happened as the 5th grade lined up for library. John was short by 3rd grade standards. He wore very thick glasses, and was not able to stand up straight due to some sort of spine curvature. This made him a prime target for the bullies. The teasing inflicted on John was much worse than anything I had experienced. But on that particular day, some of our classmates started knocking on his front and back to laugh at the sound that resulted from the plastic plates he wore under his shirt. It was more than I could take.

I don’t know where it came from, but I became almost ‘Hulk-like’ with anger. To this day, I honestly can’t say if I stood up for John because of the cruel punishment he was getting, or if I was finally dealing with the fact that neither of us, or anyone else for that matter, deserved to be treated that way. I stood in the middle of the cool kids, only a bit taller than John, and let them have it. My voice was loud and cracking, and my cheeks were flushed, but I somehow found the words that had been buried inside me for the entire year. ‘Do you like being mean? How would you feel if you were in his place?’ I was so afraid it would slip that I was really referring to the way they treated me, but fortunately I didn’t. When I finished, one kid made a joke, but the rest were quiet and looked down. The crowd dispersed as the teacher came around, but she never did understand the minor commotion.

We are now in our senior year in high school, yet John and I have never spoken of that day. Sometimes he will give me a little smile as we pass each other in the hall. Perhaps it’s my imagination but I have to believe he stood just a bit taller from that day on. I know I did.”

Tina Nocera
Parental Wisdom

Comments (4)

Mom on Strike

moms-on-strike.png

As I read the article about the arrest of Melissa G. Dean, 33, Florida mother of 4 children ages 17, 16, 14 and 13 for leaving her children home alone, it quickly dawned on me that she was a child herself when she became a mother.

Even for those of us who waited until we felt ‘ready’ to have children, whatever ready means, I can’t imagine how challenging it is not only to be a teenage mother, but to be a teenage mother repeatedly.

Parents, please create a village for yourselves as a means of support. This job of parenting is too hard to do alone. We all need people to rely on and count on. For all of the daily parenting questions that arise, where you need to be your child’s advocate and not break any confidence, you can reach out to Parental Wisdom.

As Plato said, be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Comments (4)

Teenagers – Like Rodney Dangerfield, They Just Need Some Respect

rodney.png

An article in The Patriot-News reminded me of a situation from a few years ago. We went to a movie theatre and just before the movie started, the door opened. The manager looked in, scanned the crowd and found a small group of adolescent kids who were eating popcorn and sipping soda, just like everyone else. The manager glared at them and yelled, “If you do anything, I’ll throw you out!”

They weren’t doing anything. I don’t know if some other incident happened earlier or another time, but at that moment, they were well-behaved.

I thought the manager was disrespectful and wondering how kids learn respect if they’re treated that way. Don’t get me wrong, there are adolescents and teens that behave badly, but stereotyping is wrong and unfair.

Let’s teach by example.

Leave a Comment

The Kids Are Always Watching

fighting.png

The families of two 5th-graders involved in a pushing incident are called in for a counseling session after words between families were exchanged. After the counseling session ended, an argument and altercation outside the school followed. When it was over, the father of one of the boys was dead.

How do our children learn? What do our children learn? They learn from us, their first and most important teachers. They learn how to behave, how to resolve arguments without violence, and they learn that sometimes they are wrong.

Scenario

Two best friends try out for the high school varsity cheering squad. Tracy makes it; Allie doesn’t. They walk home together in silence. Allie walks in her house, tosses down her book bag, and tells her mom, “I can’t believe she didn’t say a word to me. I can’t believe she didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t make it!’” At the same time, Tracy arrives home in tears. “I can’t believe she didn’t congratulate me,” she tells her mother.

A parent has a tremendous opportunity to help her child, and at the risk of hyperbole, even get us closer to world peace, by pointing out to her child the other person’s point of view. What if the same scenario played a little differently?

What if Allie’s mom replied, “Honey, maybe Tracy was struggling with feeling good about making the squad and feeling guilty that you didn’t. It’s very possible that she simply didn’t know what to say.”

Tracy’s mom could have replied, “Tracy, put yourself in her shoes for a moment. Allie was really disappointed that she didn’t make it. Give her a day to deal with that.”

The world looks very different when you hear the same scenario from the other person’s perspective.

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
-Mother Teresa

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »