Posts Tagged ‘parenting advice’

Being Gentle on New Parents

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Being Gentle on New ParentsIn June, on Father’s Day, a picture of a beaming father snuggling his young daughter appeared on Instagram. His face is full of joy and pride. It’s a beautiful photo. Unfortunately, the father happened to be incorrectly, and potentially dangerously, using a baby carrier. More unfortunately, the father happened to
be the rather well known actor, Ryan Reynolds.

Internet users were quick to point out how he was misusing the carrier and was potentially placing his daughter in danger. They were quick to offer advice on how he should properly position his daughter. They were quick to yell, quick to berate, quick to tell this perfect stranger how badly he was parenting and how he should be doing it instead.

Now, I’m not a famous person. I don’t have the thick skin that I hope they do. (By the way, his response was perfect.) But I’ve seen this reaction, time and time again, aimed at everyday moms and dads, and I can tell you that it’s enough to make the average person cry. Car seats, baby carriers, diapers, feeding, travel, sleep…everyone has an opinion and many are just waiting to aim theirs squarely at you. As a new parent you’re bumbling, you’re stumbling; you just want a little reassurance and a high five. Turn to the Internet, though, and what you’re likely to find is many people who just want to point out that you’re doing it all wrong. Not exactly the welcome to the online parenting 
community that we’d like, right?

So, can we all just step back a minute? Can we think back to a time when we didn’t have the Internet to make us think we know it all? Can you remember a time when maybe you didn’t use that baby carrier just the right way until a friend stepped in to help you adjust? Can you think of a time when you didn’t read every manual that came with every baby item before you first used it? Can you think of a time when you didn’t have a clue about what you were doing but you still found a way and were proud as heck that you and baby were surviving? I certainly can. Every time I write one of these blogs, I scrutinize every photo I submit just to make sure I’m not displaying to the world some gaff that I, as a brand-new, sleep deprived mother did not know I was committing.

So the next time you come across a photo on the Internet that makes you want to speak up, stop and try this first:

  1. Read the comments. Please, take just a minute to read the comments that others have already left. Has the same bit of information that you would like to impart already been left by 59 other commenters? Repeating what’s already been said simply makes well-intentioned advice seem like an assault.
  2. Assess the situation. Is the offense a matter of safety, or simply a matter of parenting differences? Did the original poster ask for opinions or help? If they didn’t, and if the situation is more about parenting styles, then just keep scrolling.
  3. Private Message. If the advice you wish to give is not already provided, or if you feel that you can offer more in depth detail or support, go ahead and send the mom or dad a private message if possible. If you’re telling someone that they’re doing it wrong, even if you simply intend to gently help them correct a safety issue, you’re better off doing it privately.
  4. Comment gently. Sometimes a private message is not always possible. If you’ve read the comments (or are the first commenter) and what you’d like to share hasn’t already been stated, proceed gently. Compliment the intention, even if the execution wasn’t flawless. Assume people honestly don’t know that they’re doing something unsafe. Something like “I LOVE seeing babywearing daddies! Isn’t it great to keep baby close? I happen to have the same carrier and know they can be tricky at first, so could I offer a tip? In this carrier, baby needs to have her legs above the waistband…” would have been a great way to approach the issue seen in the photo.

The Internet can be a fantastic place, full of information, entertainment, and social engagement. Unfortunately, the Internet can also be harsh, cold, and cruel. The distance between our fingers and the words that appear on the screen seems vast. The security of anonymity can lead us to say things to others that we may never say in person. So, type with care. Embrace those new moms and dads, make them feel welcome. Help them find secure footing in their rocky new world. Be kind.

 Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She is quite sure she doesn’t get it right all of the time.

Staying Out of the Mommy Wars

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

I was in the parking lot of Fry’s after grocery shopping with my daughter, who was somewhere between the ages of 6 and 8 months. She was old enough to sit in the grocery cart with no problem, but small enough not to be able to maneuver to standing in that death-defying move so many moms of toddlers know.

I was unloading the cart myself, trying to keep track of my baby, my purse, the groceries, and allowing the car to cool down enough to stick my baby in her sweltering bucket seat in the hot Arizona summer. A car honked loudly several times as it pulled in beside us. I looked up, startled, to a grandmotherly kind of woman practically leaping out before it was in park. “You shouldn’t leave your baby in the cart like that!” she scolded me. “She could fall out!”

“But I’m right here,” I countered, kind of stunned and unprepared to defend myself at the moment. She proceeded to tell me a story of her nephew/grandson/neighbor’s kid who had, in fact, leapt from the grocery cart and sustained a head injury as a result, but I couldn’t really focus on her message. I didn’t know her, she scared the crap out of me, and now she was standing here judging my parenting when I already felt completely overwhelmed as a first-time mom with my one child. And anyhow, she’s my monkey baby.

Staying out of the mommy wars

Whether you’re in a store, on a play date or on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a parent doing something you felt was unsafe. It might be something that just gave you pause, or it might be something you felt strongly about—a car seat facing forward too early, a baby bucket balanced precariously in the shopping cart basket, a shot of a baby standing in a crib that needs to be lowered, a kid in the car in front of you standing in his seat.

I don’t know the parent or the situation–all I want to do is make sure that baby is safe. I have to trust that it’s mom wants that for her child more than me. But there is part of me that wonders, What if she doesn’t know better? What if she needs someone to say something? Should that person be me?

Online, when these things get pointed out either by stranger or friend, it’s labeled as mommy wars. It’s seen as saying, “I’m a better parent than you because I wouldn’t do that.” I think most of us aren’t trying to come off like that, but we get defensive, we start projecting, and all of a sudden we’re in a Facebook fight with a mom we don’t even know over how to best take care of our own children.

I feel like I’ve learned how to handle this issue with nursing. Rather than preach and prod about the benefits of nursing to pregnant or new moms, I simply text or message them with a congrats and a reminder that I am here if they need me and that I would be happy to help them find any resources they may need to be successful with nursing. I’ve had many friends that I didn’t think would contact me, to ask questions and seek out resources. I have been so happy that they asked and that I could help without any confusion about my intentions.

But when you have that chance encounter with someone in the store or online, there’s no relationship of trust to work from. They don’t know your motivations or your background. I still don’t know whether it’s best to say something because I am sincerely worried about a safety risk, or if I’m being egotistical in thinking I am somehow more informed than any other mom, or that a random brush with me would change anyone’s life.

I still wince when I see car seats on top of grocery carts and babies standing in crib on the highest settings—those  things just worry me. I want to say something on the off chance that it will be heard. But for now, I just say a quick prayer and keep on walking.

Erin Burt is the mother of three daughters and a freelance writer who lives and works in Queensbury, New York. 

Friday Family Spotlight: Meet Andrea’s Family

Friday, November 16th, 2012

I am excited to feature Andrea’s awesome family of SIX for this week’s Friday Family Spotlight! Read on to learn more about their upcoming mission trip to Guatemala!

Who are the members of your family?

Our family is now even, as our kids say. There are 3 girls and 3 boys. My husband Jeremy and I have been married 8 wonderful years! Which leads to the four funniest kids you will ever meet- Harrison (7 years), Nell (5 years), Mitchell (4 years) and Meredith (3 months). Seeing the way the “big kids” all interact with Meredith has been amazing. They absolutely love having a baby around the house… just wait till she starts crawling and taking their toys though .

How did you meet your significant other?

Jeremy and I met at Minnesota State Universtiy Mankato. We were both involved in Catholic Newman Center- the on-campus church. Most of our time dating revolved around that place- we would study together at Newman, go to Sunday church services together and so on. Our date nights ended up being on Wednesday nights when we went to teach faith formation at a near-by church. Nothing like seeing the the other persons true colors as when they are surrounded by a group of rowdy 6th grade boys.

What do you and your family like to do for recreation?

We love to be outside! Living in Minnesota our weather varies so much that our recreation varies as well. In the summer we are out on the pontoon, swimming and having bonfires 3 to 4 days a week. In the winter we go sledding, skating and my husband takes the kids ice fishing.

What is your favorite baby carrier and why?

Our favorite carrier is for sure the Becco Gemini. Meredith loves being with us everywhere we go and the Becco is so comfy for both her and I.

What is the best and worst parenting advice you have ever been given?

The best parenting advice I ever got is easy “The end goal is Heaven not Harvard.” I call to that quote often when things get overly busy and try to simplify. Between ski lessons, choir practice, school, tennis lessons, homework and so on- its so easy to loose sight of the importance of what truly matters to us as Christians- loving, serving and sharing with others about Christ. Trying to keep the family focused can be a challenge sometimes. The worst advice would be “You need to stop cuddling that baby so much. You’re going to spoil him/her.” I have heard that almost every time I had a newborn from some well meaning stranger. Sorry- cuddling away here! They are only babies for a short time.

What goals do you have for your family in the next year or two?

My husband and I travel leading mission trips for the teens and adults for our church. Last year my husband was able to bring our Kindergarten son to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala to the mission we serve at. He came back a changed little kid- humbled by the poor he was able to serve and thrilled to share stories with his classmates about camping on top of a volcano one night. We promised ourselves that we would make it a priority to take the kids down to the San Lucas Mission every 1-2 years. Our trip with all the kids is scheduled for Easter 2014.

Share a pecial family tradition you have:

My husband and I both recalled having bedtime prayers and stories with our mothers. We agreed that that could be a special time for Jeremy, as a father, to share with himself and the kids. So every night they gather in the boys room for story, prayer and song. It melts my heart to listen outside the door and hear them sing “Jesus, I adore you and I lay my life before you. How I love you!” every night.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. — Pope Benedict XVI . I love this quote! We try to already, at such young ages, to talk about this and ask the kids what God might have planned for them. Nell, our 5 year old, last week was having a hard time talking through her future plans, post election. “I don’t think I can wait to be president when I grow up. Changes need to happen soon. I might just have to be the first Student President. I’m already pretty busy right now though but maybe if I skip skiing this winter I can fit it in.” Aim high right?

Thanks Andrea for sharing your beautiful family with us! We wish you guys the very best!!

Would you like to have your family featured in a Friday Family Spotlight AND win a FREE $10 gift certificate to Mom’s Milk Boutique for your participation? If so email sarah@momsmilkboutique.com with the subject line “Friday Family Spotlight Inquiry” and share something interesting about your family in your email message.

HAPPY FRIDAY ALL! Hope to “see you” at tonight’s Twitter party!

-Sarah

Friday Family Spotlight: Meet Natalia’s Family!

Friday, September 28th, 2012

 

 

Get ready to meet one super cool and very active family! I really enjoyed learning more about Natalia’s family and hope you do too!

Who are the members of your family?
Daddy Dylan teaches traditional Choy Li Fut kung fu 蔡李佛 and Yang Tai Chi 太極拳. He is hoping to be Sifu (head teacher) of his own school someday. I am a first-time Mommy of Brandon Koa as well as a Ballet Instructor and Certified Massage Therapist. We are currently staying with my father (Brandon’s GongGong) to get out of debt and to be with family during this important transition into parenthood. It has been such a blessing for all of us!
How did you meet your significant other?
We met when I entered Eastern Ways Martial Arts school in Folsom, CA. We have been together and trained together ever since.

Natalia, 5 months pregnant, at the International Plum Blossom Tournament in San Francisco doing Tai Chi. She won the gold!

What is your favorite Mom’s Milk Boutique Product?
There isn’t a top favorite, I shop at MMB for nearly everything we need: Laundry Detergent/RLR, Dryer balls, Baby Bits, Bravado Nursing bras/tanks, Baltic Amber jewelry, Moby Wrap, Snappis, Naturally Luxe Wool Wash bars, Planet Wise, Wean Green, Sloomb (sustainablebabyish) UnderWoolies is my newest love!


What is your favorite baby carrier and why?
I actually have three favorites: Moby Wrap for comfort, Ergo Baby for back carry, and Maya Wrap (ring sling) for easy in-n-outs. My spouse says I am his favorite baby carrier. 😉

Daddy Dylan performing Crane Technique at the California State Fair

What is the best and worst parenting advice you have ever been given?

Best: Enjoy every moment and stage of baby’s life!

Worst: “Supplement with formula.” Even our pediatrician said it was “ok” to do so! However my Mom encouraged us not to as formula can negate the positive effects of human milk. My mother is an International Lactation Consultant and RN, so we get TheBestAdvice!

Brandon with his GongGong having a Grrreat time as usual!

What is one of your favorite quotes?

~The oyster turns into a Pearl the sand which annoys it~

Thanks Natalia for sharing your lovely family with us! Your $10 gift certificate to Mom’s Milk Boutique will arrive soon!

Would you like to have your family featured in a Friday Family Spotlight AND win a FREE $10 gift certificate to Mom’s Milk Boutique for your participation? If so email sarah@momsmilkboutique.com with the subject line “Friday Family Spotlight Inquiry” and share something interesting about your family in your email message.

Have a blessed weekend all!

-Sarah 🙂

The YES Environment!

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Part of our YES environment for active boys includes an indoor swing and mini climbing wall

When my first son was just a few months old, I got the best piece of parenting advice to date. A friend of mine suggested to “always have an emergency sucker in my purse”. Even though she was half joking (and I am kind of embarrassed to admit) this has been an effective parenting tool that has saved us all, myself included, from complete meltdown more than once.

I received my second favorite parenting tip when my first son started to crawl. At that time a friend shared the idea of creating a YES environment in your home. What is a YES environment? It’s arranging your physical space to be baby/child friendly in order to decrease the frequency at which you are saying “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and the like. It’s a bit different than child-proofing as child-proofing typically only assess and removes potential dangers. Creating a YES environment goes a step further to create a space that understands and supports the development needs of young children to actively explore their environment. It also aims to minimize conflict between parent and child. A common example is to have non-breakable kitchenware in a few lower cabinets so that little curious hands can open doors, touch, rearrange, and even crawl into the cabinets. If you were only interested in baby-proofing you would simply put child-locks on ALL the cabinets. However a YES environment recognizes baby/child’s curiousities as valid and provides appropriate outlets for them.

For me having a YES environment means I don’t have very many decorative things around the house. I prefer not to spend energy constantly redirecting baby (or friends’ little ones when they visit) away from breakables. It also means I don’t have nice new furniture because I would rather not feel angry at my children for accidents such as spilling their drink or tracking in mud. I definitely talk with them about being careful, and/or responsible in these situations and may even have them help clean up. However I don’t have to exert energy being overly protective of furnishing and can respond to accidents calmly.

Another important part of having a YES environment for me is actually saying YES to my children when they ask something. Can we paint? Can we play in the water? Can we do playdough? Can we go for a bike ride? Can we take all the blankets and pillows off all the beds to make a fort? YES! Okay truth be told, sometimes (often) my first thought is “no way!”. But then I pause and ask myself why the answer is no? And if a valid reason does not come to mind (please note that “because it’s a big mess that I don’t want to have to clean up” IS a valid reason at times) then instead of resist, I aim to embrace their request. Sometimes the YES comes with limits such as “sure we can paint outside” or a compromise “if you want to play with water you can play in the bathtub” or a deal “okay, but you will need to put them all back when you are done”.

Critics of a YES environment might say “well a child needs to learn boundaries”. And be assured that I absolutely agree!! However I have faith and trust that the unpredictable nature of life itself will inevitably provide ample opportunity for a child to learn boundaries. And I also feel that the less frequently a child hears no, the more attentive and respectful they are when they do hear it.

Do you have a YES environment in your home? If so what does that look like for your family? What do you think the benefits of it are?

-Sarah