The Parenting FastCast

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November 29, 2019  

S5-Ep337 - How to tell family they’re wrong

 Memorial Day weekend was a fun time of family, food, and … more food, but because our kids don’t live anywhere near their cousins, this weekend made it more important that we spend time with ours and our kids cousins.

 But there’s nothing like family – family whom you can be the most honest with, not hold anything back, but also – hold something back because you don’t want to piss of those closest to you.  So this weekend offered a good opportunity to see my wife’s family and see how they parent.

   And one of their kids is a gregarious type. Willing to wear her emotions on her sleeve. And it’s great that we raise girls who appear to be willing to stand up for themselves. And the family, when talking about her were all in agreement that she has a strong will.

So when the little girl asked to have a piece of candy, her mom’s instant response was a quick “No”. followed by a “harrumph” from the little girl, and an equally quick “ok, one piece”.

And in playing it back in my head, I think the mom quickly defaulted to “no”, but didn’t really mean it. That’s problem one. We need to mean what we say.
And the girl is slightly upset. Not much mind you, but just reactive with a frown – and then quickly gets her way. Again, not even intentional to throw a fit to get what she wanted.

So when you look back on it, you can see why this little girl is stubborn. She always gets what she wants if she digs in. If she throws a frown – gets it. Wants something really bad – most likely digs in hard, and then gets it.

Now I’m not in a position to tell my wife’s family how to parent, so no answer there. She may not even think there’s anything wrong. And if it’s not a problem with her, then it’s not a problem, but we need to mean what we say and we need to say it once in my opinion.

   This will take some practice from us as parents, especially ones who are not used to thinking about every small response. So take your time, tell your kids “you’re thinking about it”, and let’s be more mindful of our responses. 

November 28, 2019  

S5-Ep336 - How kids work

 Today’s episode is on how kids work. I don’t mean how they work in a factory, thank the Lord. That’s something to be thankful for today. What I mean is that I see parents who struggle with their children. They struggle with hitting, or in my case, my 6 year old not picking up all the mud from his shoes after I asked him three times to do so. They struggle with not playing with other children well. They struggle with school work.

 And my mind goes back to basics- Here’s how kids work.

   Disclaimer. This is an oversimplified version. Don’t try to tell me that it’s more complicated than this. I get it. I’m a parent.

But one: Your kids don’t rationalize: When they decide to drop everything and head outside because they saw their bike out the window (which they also simply left where they last dropped it). When they see that bike and want to play with it – it’s everything else be damned.

Two: They don’t think of consequences. And there are 90% of parents that I know that look at their kids incredulously after they do something stupid. We are like, “What did you expect to happen after you tore off all the paper from all the crayons.”  I’m totally guilty of that.

Three. They do let go.  When your kid goes to school tomorrow, he will mostly have forgotten all the kids who slighted her the day before. That’s something we don’t do as adults.

So next time you start in on your kid for something they did or didn’t do. Try to cut them some slack with this knowledge. Their brains develop from the back to the front. They’re not adults. Let’s try to have rules, stick to rules, enforce rules, but let’s also temper it with some love. That’s something we can (and should be doing) as adults! Love and logic.

November 27, 2019  

S5-Ep335 - One of those weeks.

 It’s been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where things happen in three’s. And it’s not usually the good things that happen in threes. The first two. Were bad. I won’t go into those. But it’s the third thing that has me fired up tonight. 

 My little man had to go get some stitches.

  We don’t have an urgent care where we live so a trip to the hospital adds drama.  But during what appears to be some rough play my kid got hit with a metal water bottle so hard it gauged his forehead. Not cool.

First, the nurses were great and my man was very brave. And my wife is very accommodating in times like this. “Oh it’s ok”, It’s not the other kids fault” “We’re ok”.

But I am telling myself it’s not ok. That I don’t have to be ok with it. And to be clear, I am ok with however the school wants to let kids play. And I’m ok with kids having to fall down to learn. And I’m ok with whatever goes on – until that line is crossed. Then I’m not ok with it.
And my lesson to other parents is that in today’s world there will be a lot of times where the culture and society wants you to be a certain way, and you may not be ok with it. Maybe it’s about covering up during breastfeeding. Maybe it’s on holding your kid back in school. Maybe it’s on the pressure from friends to do a birthday party that’s out of your comfort zone.

Have some courage. Say it’s not ok. But know that we all have to live together and move on from it. So don’t harbor the emotions. Forgive and forget (if you can). Make the best of it. Do your best at the same time as acknowledging your feelings.

That’s what I’m doing.

 

November 26, 2019  

S5-Ep334 - I was impressed.

 My 5 year old is now a 6 year old. Yup, 6 years with this guy. And each year is different. This one added 3” to his height! And this birthday, after years of bringing gifts for other kids, and after debating whether we really need more stuff (which we don’t, but it was a factor); we let him decide if he wanted a party or not. And he did, and he wanted his friends to bring him presents. It sounds bad, but parenting is tricky.
And one girl brought a couple of homemade presents for Evan. One was a necklace that was hand knitted.
I was impressed. I told my parents. They were impressed. And it really was an impressive gift, the gift of thought and time and effort. And I told my son that I was impressed by those things. Those things matter.

 But it takes courage to be a parent who enables your kid to give a homemade gift. And the world needs more of that.

 I challenge you all to find small moments of courage to win at. And the small wins will become bigger with practice. Even if your moments of courage are saying no. Saying no, when you’re afraid of a meltdown in the store. That’s a start.

But I think the most courage comes from saying yes. When you let your daughter be in charge of the gift to a friend’s party – and giving it no matter what it is, or saying yes to letting your kid go off with other friends – leaving you behind without a sidekick. Those moments of letting your kid lead – those are the most important. They teach the most, and you’ll learn that most often, your child gains some confidence (or a lesson) and things work out just fine.  

November 25, 2019  

S5-Ep333- Where Are the Repercussions?

 Where are the repercussions?!

And you might be thinking I’m going to start talking about a kid I saw bullying on the playground, but I’m taking today to talk about adults.

And this week, when I look around, I’ve been looking at sacrifices.
Specifically how I seem to be sacrificing and everyone else is living it up. Vacations. New cars. Dinners out.

Where are the reprocussions.

Yea, the economy is booming and when we look back on 2018-2019 I think we’ll see how good it was.

But for the majority of us trying to live within our means, eat healthy, and save for a rainy day. It’s hard.

And I think that people will feel those repercussions eventually. I think they’re still there. They’re just delayed.

 But I think I need to take heart yesterday’s lesson and make decisions for myself, not for others. And the bottom line is that we have to lead our children by example.

   So the sacrifices I’m making I’ll continue to tell myself are a good thing.

Sacrifices are great, at least I think so. And I’ve got a lot of practice in doing that, which makes it seem very foreign to other people when they lean I’m a vegan, and they go, “I couldn’t do that”. Yea. You could. You just need some practice. Mainly practice at flipping the script. Turning a negative into a positive. All your friends are eating chicken burritos, but you get the veggie. Guess what, it’s always cheaper. Flip the script.

So when we sacrifice for ourselves and we in turn tell our children about the choices them make. Like, “I chose to make you lunches so you can have more fruit in your lunch…. And I know you love fruits.” – we teach kids both what’s important to us, and that work is required to get it.

 

Since life will never be unlimited resources for us, let’s teach our kids how to live within our means. By example.

November 24, 2019  

S5-Ep332 - Learn something about yourself.

 The next few days will be about us. Us as parents.

Figuring out ourselves is a full time job, one that we don’t have time for. But we can try.

So where should we go to figure ourselves out?

If you force yourself to say the answer out loud – there’s only one. You.

But even if we find out that we actually believe in something – when we run into our father blasting the carbon tax, or our friends saying Uggs are the worst.  Well, we start to take what we learned about ourselves and throw it out the window.

And it’s this caring what other people think that hurts us, as adults.

 And the bottom line is that we have to lead by example. So if we want our kids to care and follow what other people think and do – easy. But if we want them to be independent thinkers, we need to lead.

   We can’t expect our children to be exceptional – better than normal, if we as adults do all the normal things, along with all the normal adults out there.
It’s super tough to stop caring what others think.

But there are some tactics which may be more simple than you think.

One. Surround yourself with more positive people. Talk to negative people less. That can be hard if it’s your best friend from 5th grade. Or your mom.

Two. Regret is the biggest poison. “I wish” is the toughest phrase we have for ourselves. I wish feels valid now, but it’s never true in the future. The 90 year old version of you wishes he/she was your age at this moment. Live life forward.

 

This is where life can get good for you. Because when you realize you’re making decisions not based on money or time, but really on opinions – then you’ve really learned something about yourself.

November 23, 2019  

S5-Ep331 - An environmentalist with a Land Rover

 There’s a meme out there that I hadn’t seen yet. Most likely, everyone else has, but here it goes.
“I don’t always take care of my kids” but when I do, I post it on Instagram.

And that reminded me of a story. There’s a mother whom I know who is a level 5 hippie. She writes for newspapers on ways to live holistic lives, she focuses on the right minerals to get in your body. Over the top stuff for most of us with normal-ish lives.

 So it was funny when I overheard her talking about how her Land Rover’s DVD players weren’t working and she needed to get some stand in replacements for a long trip. 
  Here’s an environmentalist who also drives a Land Rover. And here’s a woman so concerned with what her kids ingest through their mouths, but doesn’t care about what goes in their eyeballs.

Now I know a lot of parents put TV on in the car for their kids. My opinion is they probably shouldn’t, but I could be wrong. And if that’s your respite, it’s better than in the living room – on – all – day. But most likely all of the people that you read about, see on insta, give advice on the news, or write a book or a podcast – have some hypocrisy.

Be wary of the Level 5 hippies.

Give yourself a break, and know there will be times when you don’t want to parent.

Get your kids outside if they can be out there un-watched.

Get your kids to make something

Try to make the best of a bad situation, but still take care of yourself.

 

And on insta, try to find that balance between fake and real. But always be aware of the humblebrag. 

November 22, 2019  

S5-Ep330 - Looking Forward

 As kids develop we need to develop with them. And while the fastest physical changes happen between day 1 and a 4 weeks – I mean, babies gains a lot of weight between birth and a month old. You can see it every day. When they become 6 years old we can barely perceive them as they happen. We have to look back to the beginning of the school year to really tell.

 But for the new 6 year old here’s what’s happening. Generally starting in school, they are asking themselves one question in their development. I mean they aren’t specifically repeating it in their head – but this one thing is ingrained into what they do. They’re asking “Can I make it in the world of people and things?”

   And that’s a powerful question. One that we parents need to develop with them.

My first thought on this is that no kid is a failure. This should seem obvious to most parents thinking about their own kid. But ask it about that other one eating glue in his class. Yea – we judge others. But no kid is a failure. They each have a different path.

This is what my mom told me. I may have been 25 or so, definietely pre kids, but I stored that one in the memory bank. It’s our job as parents to help them find their path. It may not be at math. It may not be at sports. It’s up to us.

Otherwise, one of the striking things I think happens from here to age 12 is that they

Start to think about the future.

 

It’s the looking forward that we can help with. So today ask your child what they’re looking forward to. A friends birthday. The end of school. The start of a vacation.
It helps your child understand his place in the world and we all learn how to set expectations for the future together.

November 21, 2019  

S5-Ep329 - Your Child has a memory now

 I was thinking about my soon to be 6 year old’s birthday the other day when it hit me. Out of the blue. “He could very well remember this – for the rest of his life”. And yes, he probably won’t remember this thing – but we all have memories from our youth, and we don’t get to choose what our kids remember.

 So it made me nervous. I mean I have literally been saying for years, “He won’t remember his 1st birthday. His 2nd birthday. Even into his 5th. I use it as an excuse to cut out the over the top things. And to focus on what’s important. At least to acknowledge that when we do things for our small children – it’s often for us adults. 

   But kids are going into a new stage.

Erik Erikson was a psychologist. He won a Pulitzer prize. He defined some levels to growing up. And our kids are into what he calls:

Stage Four – Industry vs Inferiority

 Children mature and their level of self-awareness increases. They understand logical reasoning, scientific facts, and other matters that are typically taught in school.

But they also become more competitive during this Erikson stage of development. They want to do things that other children of the same age can do. When they make the effort to perform a task and succeed, they develop self-confidence. However, if they fail, they tend to feel that they are inferior to others.

So we’re in a new arena here parents. This time it feels like it matters. They will remember the wins and the losses. And if they’re human they’ll be more hurt by the losses than happy with the wins.

My point is that they will put this on themselves.
You’ll want to make them winners at everything – that’s called bulldozer parenting. Bulldozing the obstacles out of the way.
You’ll want to monitor their moves and give feedback on the mistakes you see – that’s called helicopter parenting.

And now you realize what I said; we’re in a new arena. And it will have its challenges just like a 2 year old, but different challenges. The challenges will be on you, as much as your kid, and he has a memory now, so let’s work on helping them, but not too much, and always being there asking how they felt about their successes and their failures.

November 20, 2019  

S5-Ep328 - What if Motherhood didn’t have to be so hard?

 The title of today’s episode should elicit a pretty clear reaction in most of you.
Some will say, “I’d love that!” – exasperated.

And others will say, “Because then it wouldn’t feel like motherhood”.

I’ll link the article in the shown notes. It’s a good, and long piece by USA today’s Alia Dastagir.

And I’m going to weasel my way into this conversation because I’m an involved father, and when I read it, I think, What if parenting didn’t have to be so hard?

 And my reaction was “Because then it wouldn’t feel like motherhood”.

   I throw out my honest answer because it cuts to the heart of what I think is a cultural expectation.

I mean, I literally think – If parenting wasn’t exhausting to me, and overwhelming most of the time – I would feel like I could be doing more.

And that’s the cultural problem right there.

Just like when your boss asks you to do something – and you hold back just a little – Could you have formatted that report differently? Or stayed a few more minutes after your shift to clean something up? Yea, probably,  but your boss will then ask you to do that all the time. That’s culture. That’s what society expects of us as parents too. To go the extra mile, else you want your kid to be successful. To get that popular Christmas present, else you don’t love your kid enough.
And this article focused on the tangible shifts.

Less mothers staying home with their kids.

Increased child care costs.

Grandparents don’t live as close.

Social Media compares you to every other lying mother out there.

"People think motherhood is inherently overwhelming because we've made that idea seem natural," said the quoting professor. "We normalize the hardships of motherhood. ... This is now what's familiar."

 

Combine the lack of guaranteed maternity leave with a culture that bullies mothers for everything from breastfeeding in public to sleep training, and the generosity of a single holiday starts to pale.

 

I’m sorry mothers. Give yourself a break. I’ll work on helping educate, but we all have to work to change that voice in our heads which blames ourselves. Let’s start, by working on that. 

November 19, 2019  

S5-Ep327 - Sibling Rivalries. Part II.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201707/5-causes-sibling-rivalry-home-and-the-job

 Yesterday we talked about sibling rivalries and we gave you some tactics. Tactics are great. They get clicks on the internet, they make you feel like you have a hack that shortcuts the process.

But sometimes you can’t fix things with tactics and you need strategy. For the women out there, this is like pulling off a killer little black dress – pairing the right jewelry or hair, and looking great. Those are tactics. But if you wear the little black dress to your local gardening center; you’ve failed. Because where you wear the dress is the strategy.

 Today we talk about strategy.  

   The article I got some of these future details on is listed in our show notes.

These mainly look at the causes.

  1. It could be a lack of structure. When there is a lack of or not enough structure in the home, children don’t feel safe, they feel anxious. They don’t know what to expect, don’t have that steady routine to ground them. The anxiety can fuel irritability and sibling rivalry; in the absence of clear structure, they may constantly be pushing and testing in order to find out where the boundaries are.
  2. If your kids are spread out in a wide range and they all go to bed at the same time or get no privileges for being older and more competent, sibling rivalry will increase. Why? Because each child needs to have his own place in the family system; he needs to know that as he gets older and more responsible there are changes and benefits that come with it.
    1. I’ll need to keep this in mind myself as my kids get older. We don’t love them exactly the same. We love them uniquely.
  3. And last is negative attention. I think we all look at our kids as inherently nice, but acting out just for attention is wired into these little people.
    1. Everyone needs positive attention. In its absence children and adults will shoot for negative attention. The worse is no attention at all.
November 18, 2019  

S5-Ep326 - Sibling Rivalries Part I.

https://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/sibling-rivalry

 Here it is, I’ve had it on my list for a while now. And I haven’t addressed it because, well I’m not an expert on sibling rivalry. But I know some people that are. So over the next few days, I want to come at this unceasing drama a few different ways.
First, to all the parents with one child. Take a few days off I guess? Revisit an old episode that you think really helped you, or better yet, talk with your bestie about that episode. Build your community up a little.

For the rest, it is a natural issue, sibling rivalries. You didn’t create it. You can’t make it go away completely. This is life. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

But the best way to accept it is to ask yourself, just like positiveparentingsolutions.com puts it:

 how would you feel if your spouse brought home someone else and expected the two of you to get along?

   I’ll link the website I got some of these tips from in the show notes.

There are 6 good tactics on that list.  I want to cover two of them, because I do one, and I should do more of the other.

  1. Stay out of squabbles. When an argument brews: Ignore it. I’m not always good at it, especially when I see one kid flooding the other one, and that feels unfair. But now is the time to let them figure it out or fail. If it fails, it’s better that a 6 and 3 year old get into it vs a 17 and 14 year old. The punches are easier to get in the middle of now.
  2. Arrange for attention: Your kids need attention. If you’re an average adult, with an above average cell phone screen time, you could probably stand to carve out a specific 10 or 15 minutes to play with your kid. This means uninterrupted. Present. I was pretty good at this when they were 2. When they were unable to self play, I would force myself to be present with them, even when it was rough. And I’ve lost some of that. So find something interesting, but let your little ones guide it.  

Last, conflict resolution is a very advanced skill set, so don’t project your adult reasoning onto developing brains. Give them some runway, but when it starts to work, you’ll feel the stress level in the house go down a notch.

 

November 17, 2019  

S5-Ep325 - Don’t waste this privilege…

 “You have the opportunity to choose a goal that is important to you and the privilege of failing with very little consequence. Don’t waste that privilege. “

   That was a quote from a James Clear email that just stuck with me.

It stuck with me because it parallels some of that advice from my favorite timeless parenting book “Love and Logic”. The time for failure is now. It is always more expensive to fail in the future than it is now.

   Here’s an example. If you’re a parent listening to this, you’re likely in the demographic of 25 to 40. So you have a few years on the teenage version of you. Think of something you failed at in high school. A test, A date, A lean in for a kiss.

Did you die? Nope, And I can guarantee you are 100% ecstatic that you aren’t here in 2019 and failing at your current test, date, or that kiss you could lean in for.

You are very happy that you learned that lesson when you did.

 

So give your kids that opportunity.

Give your kids the opportunity to fail at feeding the dog. Give them the chance to fail at building that fort out of pillows. I watched my kid take a blanket and try to drape it across a 2 foot wide divide between the couch and the coffee table the other day. Nothing weighing the blanket down to the couch or coffee table. It was multiple attempts with the end result of the blanket sagging down to the floor between.

But I let him do it. We all want to jump in there and help our kids out.

But that’s called helicopter parenting.

I know that you all can do it. I believe in all of you. With a little practice, you will see confidence and maybe even a little grit.

November 16, 2019  

S5-Ep324 - Creativity: a by-product of independence and curiosity

https://www.wired.com/story/esther-wojcicki-teaching-kids-independent-thinkers/

 Over the past few days we’ve started to learn Esther Wojcicki’s lesson’s on raising successful people. And as with a lot of smart, interesting, successful people, there’s a lot below the surface. But today’s focus is on Creativity. It’s said so well by Esther: creativity, a wonderful by-product of independence and curiosity.

 She writes: In one study, a test based on NASA’s recruiting process for engineers and rocket scientists was used to measure creativity and innovative thinking in small children. At age five, 98 percent of the kids had genius-level imaginative abilities. But at age ten, only 30 percent of the children fell into that category. Want to guess how many adults maintain their creative thinking skills after making it through our educational system? Just 2 percent.

  This is probably why we all believe our kids have something special in them. Because they do!

And our goal is not to stifle this. Actually, now that we think about it. Our goal is to stifle it as little as possible. Because we will want our children to “fit in with normal”, and our children too will compromise to ‘fit in with normal”, all on their own.

Here’s what you can do as a parent, even if your child’s creativity isn’t being encouraged at school: I used to set up all kinds of art supplies for my daughters on the kitchen table. There would be markers, colored paper, books, Play-Doh, yarn for braiding, and other arts and crafts. When they came home from school, they got to make whatever they wanted. I was always on the lookout for toys that they could assemble and design themselves. The YouTube Kids app now has instructional videos for any kind of creative project you can think of.

Projects like these allow kids to imagine and experiment and, most important, play. Creativity flows from a sense of play, and it’s one of the easiest things to teach your child. Here’s a tip: Let them be. They will create their own imaginary worlds without any help from you.

November 15, 2019  

S5-Ep323 - Think of something interesting. (Can you?)

 Over the past few days we’ve started to learn Esther Wojcicki’s lesson’s on raising successful people. And today’s lesson starts with a story. When Esther was a teacher, she implemented a policy of free writing for every student a Palo Alto High school. So at the beginning of a class, or day, all students had to do was write. And here’s what she had to say about it.

 Do you want to know the single hardest assignment for my students? Coming up with their own topics. They find basic free-writing almost impossible. They complain that they don’t know what’s interesting. The main thing they want to know is if their “interesting idea” will earn an A. I tell them any idea is an A idea as long as they are interested in it, because if they’re not, why would anyone else want to read it?

  This exercise was the beginning of their independent thinking. And it turns out that the spark of curiosity has been extinguished in today’s kids.
This matches up with something else I’ve spoke about in the past – Seth Godin and his take on the modern education system. And Seth says that the main thing kids need to do is “solve interesting problems”.

That’s it. That flicker, then flame of curiosity can spread like wildfire eventually. Yes, it takes a long time to smolder sometimes. Sometimes life douses our hope and dreams, but when that flame spreads, it spreads.

In her article on wired. Link in the shown notes. “Students often don’t know why they’re learning something. Asking why is so important to kids and they deserve a better answer than “because it will be on the test.”

… When teachers answer these questions, it prompts kids to think more deeply about the implications of what they’re learning. “

And a lot of times teacher’s don’t even know this. It’s why Palo Alto has a good teaching system – they find good teachers and let them run with crazy, but effective ideas like requiring free writing every day.

You’re local school probably isn’t this good. So we as parents have to take up the slack.

“Parents can elicit curiosity in their children through similar methods. We don’t need to have the right answers all the time, but we need to encourage kids to ask the right questions. If we don’t know the answer, we can say, “Let’s find out.”