Tag Archives: ControverSunday

ControverSunday Topic: ‘Saviour Siblings’ March 6th 2011

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Okay, we have our topic for March’s ControverSunday. And I hope its one that really gets you thinking.

It was suggested by my friend Sophie, who tweets at @malatrad and Lisa of @lisasunbury jumped in saying “this might be the link #controverSunday was created for.”

I think I agree.

So what is the topic you ask? Saviour Siblings. You know, deciding to have an other baby and using our knowledge of fertility and genetics to take measures to try and select that baby to have the right genetic material to help their sibling with a life threatening illness or condition. Essentially, creating a life to save a life.  Here is a recent article on the issue, take a read: France Sees First ‘Saviour Sibling’

Now that is a controversial topic if I ever heard one.

So gets your posts ready and scheduled to go live on Sunday March 6th. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. Quite frankly, I don’t even know what I think! I really hope you all join in. Remember, everyone is welcome! (To learn more about ControverSunday, check out the ControverSunday page. Which yes, I need to update.)

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ControverSunday: Mental Health

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The Cheeseblog

I thought a lot about the topic I would cover this week. The open topic challenge was to get up the guts and talk about that thing that we all avoid talking about. That controversial issue that sits there, right near the surface, that people hesitate to go into.

For me, that topic is mental health. Now, I guess I am cheating a little, cause I have talked about mental health before, in reference to my struggles with anxiety. It is not a totally forbidden topic for me. And in the general societal discourse- the topic is coming up more and more.

None the less, it is by far the topic I wish more people talked about. A lot more.

But I am not sure my take on it is controversial. I feel that I am just joining a chorus of voices that really want to bring this topic into our everyday conversation.

For example, I was really excited to see this campaign from Bell:

People are beginning to talk. This is not at all because of just Bell or any other one group, company or individual. It is all those voices adding up. I see it as a good sign.

So what do I wish people would realize and really talk about?

You see, I really think we see mental health issues as something that ‘those people’ have. We think of individuals on the extreme end of living with mental illness. The very visible illnesses: Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Obsessive compulsive disorder, ect. And we think of people who are very obviously at the point of not functioning the same way in society as we would.

The problem I have with this is that I truly believe that mental illness works on a bell curve. (no Bell pun intended) ‘They’ say that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 Canadians experience an episode of mental illness within their lifetime. I disagree. I would suspect that number is much higher. Just like the vast major of people experience some form of physical illness within their life time, I suspect the vast majority of people experience some form of mental illness. I would rather say that the frequency, severity and duration of those episodes puts almost all of us somewhere on a big bell curve, with very mentally well and very mentally unwell on either end of the curve.

Not only that, I would argue that most of us travel back and forth along the curve at different points in our life. Sometimes we are more mentally well and other times we are more mentally unwell.

I think a lot of the conversation has been focused on the extreme. And FOR SURE, there are a lot people with severe mental illness that need support. When you look at the issue of homelessness and poverty, the issues of mental illness and addiction are so intertwined that obviously the lack of focus on mental health in our society is having a devastating impact. But I think this image of mental illness is misleading and tends to dismiss just how wide spread we are all effected by mental health issues. So I wish we would see ourselves as all having the very real potential of becoming mentally unwell, just as we all face the very real potential of becoming physically unwell. When we see mental health as something that is an important part of all of our lives that is when we will really start acknowledging it and talking about it.

I get that we humans have a evolutionary left over instinct to ‘not show our weakness’.. its why so many people don’t like going to the doctor or the dentist… we think it means we will be kicked out of the tribe or left behind. That ‘your pack is only as strong as its weakest member’ mentality… which I guess makes sense when you are trying to get away from cheetahs or something. Regardless, if we want to really enable people to lead the most mentally healthy lives they can,  it starts with recognizing just how pervasive mental illness is.

Think of all the stress we have in our lives. The pressure. The balancing of responsibilities and priorities and time lines. It is just plain hard to always have the mental fortitude to deal with those things without that starting to have an impact on ones mental wellness. And the connection between the mental and the physical runs very very deep. I wonder what the physical health of a mentally well society would look like.

That is the awareness piece. The other piece for me is the health care piece. IF mental health and physical health are as intertwined as I believe them to be (and I don’t just believe this cause I do, I have read this often.. I just can’t remember where to find a good source to send you all too) THEN why isn’t there more integration of physical and mental health in our health care system?

The answer to this question is really that our system treats symptoms, not causes. For the most part. Which is why so many people are on medication for mental health issues. Because it is easier to treat the symptoms then it is to set up a system that deals with the causes. And particularly when it comes to mental health, the causes are not something that the health care system can entirely impact. To achieve a mentally healthy society, we would need to look at our lives holistically– our work places, our homes, our recreation, our food, our communities, ect. Though I believe our health care system could play a much better role.

Some parts of the system are now moving in this direction. I know my doctor has special appointments with her and a mental health professional that her patients can sign up for… though there is very limited space in this program. But it does seem that parts of our health care system are recognizing the need. It just needs to go further. Doctors need to be more aware of mental illness and the connection to physical illness. And the path to treatment needs to be easy to navigate.. especially because mental illness often impacts ones motivation and fortitude to navigate the very complex system.

But most of all we need to talk about it.

ControverSunday: Happy New Year

Welcome to the first ControverSunday of 2011! New to ControverSunday? Check out its home page to get the low-down. And then join us! New contributors are always welcome. Always.

This month’s topic is, appropriately, about resolutions. It’s a pretty open topic this month. Essentially if you are talking resolutions then you are in! Here is the recap of the suggested questions:

“What is it about the way you parent or the way you take care of your self that you want to change or work on this year? What are your resolutions for you or for your kids. What have your challenges been? How will you accomplish them? Why do you want to accomplish them?

Do you think New Years resolutions work? Are they reasonable or realistic? Can we start fresh in the New Year? Can we make big shifts in how we do things? What does it take to do this?”

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Good Enough Mum

The Cheeseblog

Ramble Ramble

The Arbolog

Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs (noticed it’s not linked yet. mmeperpetua has asked for an extension. If there is no post by Friday let’s all head over to her blog and heckle her.)

Now You’re In the World

Sometimes you can change things and sometimes you can’t.

2010 has been rough, y’all. Not as rough as a lot of other people, I still count myself as very very fortunate. But in the context of my life, it has been one of the hardest years yet. I am happy to say goodbye to 2010. That’s not to say there haven’t been some really wonderful things about this year (my kid is really cute and hilarious! and I love that I started writing this blog–it has been a major source of happiness for me. Oh and I got a new ‘professional’ job!), but there have been many tough things too. Many of them I have written about, some of them I haven’t (and won’t).

There are somethings about my life as it is right now that I can’t change. Like really. I can’t. I can do things to try and make it better and easier, but when push comes to shove I don’t control everything. (As much as maybe I would like to).

So when it comes to resolutions, maybe I should set some and work towards the things I can change.

I don’t have any resolutions for the kid or as a parent. I am pretty happy with how I parent and I think Audrey is doing great. Sure I would like to try and stay calm and not get frustrated as quickly… and you know, generally be a better parent because there is always room for improvement. But not resolutions making stuff.

If I were to set a resolution it would be personal. For me, two things come to mind. The weight and the anxiety. I need to deal with both. I still haven’t gotten up the guts to call one of the couple of recommendations for someone to help me with my anxiety. I need to do this pronto.

When it comes to my weight… honestly, I don’t know what to do. I have lost significant weight before. It was hard. Really really hard. I didn’t have a kid and I had a deadline- my wedding in June ’08. I was motivated and I had the time to dedicate to it. We had the money to buy an elliptical (which we had to sell when we moved because it didn’t fit down the stairs in our new place). Now I know what they say. They say there is always time, you can make the time. You can make the time for you. And that is true. But that time does have to come from somewhere. From my blogging time, my knitting time, my sleeping time, my time playing with my toddler, my time with my husband, my cooking/baking time, my cleaning time, my something time. I have to make it priority and to make it a priority I need to give something up.

And I live in a city with winter 8 months out of the year. Which means I also need money to make exercise happen. Scratch that, I want to exercise indoors because I am a whimp and not likely to go for an outdoor run in the bloody cold. So money to go to the gym or the pool or something. Which I guess could come out of our wine budget (don’t tell my husband I said that. 🙂 )

It is possible. I could do it. But if I am honest with myself, I don’t really want to. Not right now. Not with so much else going on. I feel a bit like I am in survival mode, just trying to get by.

I know resolutions are not suppose to be easy. But when are they realistic? So many people set resolutions and then don’t stick with them. The gyms are packed to the brim in January, and then fade away to empty by March. So does it make sense to set a resolution, even one I know I really should do, if I know chances are I am not going to stick to it? Is there value in setting one for the sake of setting it? Does setting a resolution that you know you are likely not going to keep do more harm then good? Is it okay to say, this year, my resolution is just to keep going and try to keep my sanity in the process?

Or maybe I need something. Something I can do. Something I can change. Maybe I need to accomplish something and use that to build upon.

I really don’t know.

I know we all feel we *should* do this resolution thing. Or at the very least reflect. But why? Because we changed the page on the calendar?

I know, I am being very cynical about this whole thing. I guess I am just not feeling really resolution-ish. I think we do resolutions because there is something about a new year that feels like a clean slate. Like we can be and do anything we want. We are starting fresh. New Years is energizing and reflective. But friends, I just don’t feel energized this New Years. I feel run down and worn out. Not exactly the right frame of mind for a successful resolution.

So my resolution is to make a resolution when I feel energized, fresh and new again.

ControverSunday Topic: Resolutions for January 2, 2011

Why not just keep going with the ‘stay in keeping’ with the season thing for ControverSunday?

What is it about the way you parent or the way you take care of your self that you want to change or work on this year? What are your resolutions for you or for your kids. What have your challenges been? How will you accomplish them? Why do you want to accomplish them?

Do you think New Years resolutions work? Are they reasonable or realistic? Can we start fresh in the New Year? Can we make big shifts in how we do things? What does it take to do this?

What do you think?

ControverSunday: The holiday edition

Ho Ho Ho.

So now that we have all been steeping in holiday cheer since November 1st.. as the lights and music and gift commercials hit us in full force the day after Halloween… how are we all feeling about this holiday stuff?

This month’s ControverSunday is an open invitation to talk about anything holiday related that you find controversial. Haven’t played before? No problem. All you have to do is write up your post, toot-suite, and come over here for the link up. Don’t forget to grab your badge from Accidents. And then you are set! Didn’t have a chance to post? No problem! Join via commenting on others great posts!

Okay, now lets get to it.

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Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs

The Arbolog

The Cheeseblog

Tortoise on the Loose

Ramble Ramble

I was thinking about what most bothers me about the holiday season. I don’t mean to sound like a BahHumbug.. I LOVE Christmas… it is just that when it comes to controversial holiday topics, there are a bunch. So this might turn into a couple posts. Cause here are the things I was thinking about.

  • The insanely long and drawn out season
  • The consumer focus and spoiling of our kids
  • How it must make everyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas feel to have everything taken over for close to 2 months
  • Do you or don’t you ‘do’ Santa with your kids. (Kelly Naturally had a great post on this a couple weeks ago… check it out.)

If I wrote about all these things this post would be a couple thousand words or more. So I am going to pick two and then if the others aren’t covered by the other ControverSunday authors, or if the posts got me thinking and I have something else to say, I might post again next Sunday.

And the winners are……

The insanely long and drawn out season & Do you or don’t you ‘do’ Santa.

First off, the long season really bothers me. I get that Christmas is the biggest retail season of the year. And I get it makes economic sense to spread it out as long as possible. (Which also leads to people hiding gifts they bought in the first week of November, and then either forgetting they bought them or forgetting where they hid them and then buying more things the second week in December in a holiday induced brain fog.) I get that.

But I hate it. With. A. Passion. I used to work in retail. And if you think it is annoying to listen to the same Christmas songs for the 5 hours you spend in the mall over the course of the entire Christmas season, then try listening to them for the 300 hours you would listen to them while working overtime for the entire Christmas season. Barf.

And I love Christmas music. I love signing. I love Caroling. I do. But really. The moment the Halloween decorations are put away? I know in the U.S. I hear it is better because most don’t start ‘doing’ Christmas until after U.S. Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is early in October, so we don’t have the natural season change over marker. But it seems to me that Christmas has crept up earlier and earlier on the calendar. American friends, can you confirm?

It just makes it not so special, in my opinion. I was appalled with myself that I decorated before December 1st. I usually try to wait until the 15th. Cause I like it to be special. I like to enjoy the music and the lights and the decorations… not get sick of them before the ‘big day’ ever arrives.

I guess that falls into the category of ‘pet peeve’; not holiday controversy.

Anyway. On to perhaps the more ‘important’ topic. Will we ‘do’ the Santa thing with Audrey?

Kelly writes in her post:

“Really, the spirit of Santa is okay with me. It’s more the concocting layers of false “evidence” (cookies half eaten, left by the fireplace, “footprints” in the snow, etc.), in order to convince children (who by their very nature are very literal and want to believe their parents) of the really realness of Santa, that rubs me the wrong way. I prefer to just treat him as part of the holiday landscape that he is, without creating stories; without eroding trust.”

So I guess the question is will we be eroding trust if we choose to keep up with the fantasy of Santa? I mean, I think Kelly has a point. It is a form of lying. And some parents go to great lengths to ‘keep the story alive.’ Is that fair? Will she be disappointed when she finds out the truth? I mean, by the time she is like 4 she will be able to google I suspect…. More so, will she feel betrayed by me?

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I think there are many many many kids who grow up with the story and myth of Santa and don’t end up with any trust erosion with their parents. Part of me even feels that part of growing up is realizing your parents are not perfect. Part of growing up is unmasking the mystery of child-hood and seeing the world for what it really is. Full of contradiction and, well, disappointment.

But should I engage in something that is an active choice to deceive?

So here is what I think we will do. Audrey can believe in Santa if she wants to believe in Santa. She will hear about it from other kids, she will ask what all the fuss is about at the mall. And if she wants to go visit Santa, then we will go visit Santa. *warning, I am about to get controversial here.* I am not taking her to see Santa until she requests it. I can only guess that if we took her this year she would flip right the heck out, as being placed in a strangers lap is not her idea of a good time. And honestly kinda makes me feel queasy– shouldn’t it be her choice to be that close to a stranger… not something I do for the sake of a picture? It just doesn’t seem to be very respectful to her to force her into that situation. (Really, I don’t mean to judge if you are all over the Santa pictures.. to each their own. It just makes me uncomfortable for my kid.) If she never asks to see Santa, then we will never go to see Santa.

If she asks to write Santa a letter or leave out cookies, then we will do that. And if she asks questions I will answer them as honestly as I can, while respecting that I don’t want her to be the bearer of bad news to all the other kids. I like Kelly’s idea of asking questions to let your kid come to their own conclusions. I will play along to the extent that Audrey wants to play along. I am going to try to take her lead. To me, that is letting her believe until she no longer wants to believe. I remember as a child knowing Santa wasn’t real, but playing along because I liked the idea of it. I never felt betrayed. But my parents never made a really big deal of it either. So I think that is our plan.

What about you?

ControverSunday: Digital Privacy

Happy Sunday all! Welcome to our now monthly installment of ControverSunday. Novembers topic? Digital Privacy! Yeah!

This topic was suggested by Ginger over at Ramble Ramble and Noddleknobs and essentially, the question is whether or not one is able to have digital privacy for their children (or themselves). With the prevalence of Facebooks and blogs and twitter, ect… many of our kids have an online presense before they are 2 years old. What will this mean for our kids growing up in this environment

Want to join us in talking about this topic? Awesome. Go over to Accidents and grab the badge. Write up your post ASAP (cause we are all trying really really hard to post on time on Sunday) and then come back hear to provide a link. Voila. You are then a part of the official ControverSunday team.

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Check out these other awesome ControverSunday posts!

Ramble Ramble

The Arbolog

Tortoise on the Loose

The Cheeseblog

Now your in the world

Our lady of perpetual bread crumbs

Accidents will happen

Okay, now for the topic at hand. Wow is this a big one. I mean, really truly, this could be like 10 posts. Or one 5000 word post. I promise I won’t to that to you.

So I am going to try and narrow the discussion to what I think about the most regarding this subject. But I will say quite honestly, I am a bit torn on this issue. I really do see both sides and I don’t know what to do. To give some background… my ‘ground rules’ for Audrey’s digital presence are as follows:

a) Facebook: pretty fair game. There is a lot of info about Audrey on Facebook, but both my husband and I have pretty strict privacy settings. And we are not the type to have every ‘acquaintance’ as a ‘friend’ on facebook. People we actually know only.

b) Twitter, Blog: I try to just share my first name and Audrey’s first name. I haven’t mentioned my husbands first name. And I don’t like to share pictures. (As much I really want to sometimes, you know, being a proud mama and all. Plus, my kid is really cute.) But I find over time I become more and more laid back about this too.

Which leads me into my first point of discussion:

1) It ain’t going away

Let’s be honest, people are often anxious about new technology and new ways of communicating. Anxiety usually turns to fear and a bit of paranoia. But if we are realistic, social media is not going away. And social media makes our lives very public. Sure, it is possible to not have Facebook, not have Twitter, not be on Linkedin, not be online. But you may still have an online presence. Many places put names and e-mail addresses for their staff on their websites. Or you might have been in attendance at a meeting that published their meeting minutes to the internet. Or a friend might mention you on Facebook, maybe even put up a picture. Most people can be found with 5 minutes, an internet connection, and a search engine. Or someone might hack into a company or (even worse) your bank’s computer system and have access to a lot of information on you. So do we need to be aware of this and watching for signs of identity theft? Yes. But can we ever prevent or control everything that goes on the internet related to us? No.

So I think it is kinda naive and futile to try and stem the tide of the reality of our world being digital. The world is digital. Now we need to find a way to manage that.

2) My kid doesn’t have a say right now

On the other hand. When it comes to my kid what I think about and question is if I have a right to put her life online. I write this blog, so to some extent I think the answer to that question is yes. But I do think there is a very big responsibility there for me to protect and guard my child’s online image. I do think, when I write something, if it is something that is appropriate to share with the world or not. It is not just about if something might embarrass her when she is older (really, how different is that from sharing embarrassing pictures at her wedding or something). It is more about what do I have the right to share and what is private and hers to decide what to share. As she gets older, I suspect I will be asking that more and more. Really. Her image, her information, her story is hers, not mine. And she can’t tell me right now what her thoughts are about my sharing them. I write this blog anyway. But not without being aware of this issue and reflecting on it as I write.

3) It’s all about awareness and management

In the end, I really think it is all about awareness and managing your own (or your children… until they are old enough to manage their own) image. Having a digital presence? That is inevitable. So rather then my digital presence being dictated by someone else, I want to manage my own. I want to be out there being who I am. And when Audrey is old enough, she can be out there being who she is. But I am going to work to talk with her and educate her about implications. To make sure she keeps her digital image clean. She can be real, but we will talk about long term implications for her career if she puts up pictures of herself at a party or bad mouths her boss, for example. As well as how people treat each other online and what is not appropriate (online bullying for example). And about how to stay safe by not sharing too much personal information to protect against identity theft or having a stalker be able to determine her whereabouts.

That being said, I think by the time she is a young adult, the world is going to be more accepting of people living their real lives online. I know there are stories now of people getting fired or not hired because of something their boss or the recruiter found on Facebook. But really, if they won’t hire you because you have a picture of being drunk at a party? What young person hasn’t been drunk at a party? Who hasn’t disliked a boss they had at some point in their career? Yes, we need to be aware of what we say online, but more and more I think people will realize that everyone has skeletons in their closets, whether they put them on Facebook or not.

So what does this mean for Audrey growing up with a digital presence. It means she is going to live in a very different world. It means it is incumbent on myself and my husband to help her learn about what that means. And it means I am going to try to not close myself off to these new forms of technology and communication as I hear some people doing. Because how can I help Audrey learn the implications if I don’t understand what is happening myself?

Okay. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you think.

ControverSunday Topic: Catch Up Week

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You know that week where you were all excited about ControverSunday? You saw the topic and thought “That topic is for Me!” and you started to plan out what you were going to write in your head. You came up with some really great lines and perfect analogies? You were all set to start writing it on Thursday night, but then something got in the way. And then Friday, something happened that day too. And then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday all passed and you felt like the party was kinda over. You read a few posts, but didn’t get a chance to comment, let alone write your own thoughts on the matter.

Or maybe a topic that you are really really interested in was covered before you got all on board with the ControverSunday thing.

Well. This week is for you. It is ControverSunday catch up week. Here are the two ways to participate.
1) Pick a week (check out the ControverSunday page for a list of topics and links to past weeks) and write that post you were thinking about writing before stuff came up and you ran out of time/energy.

2) Go post a comment or two on a only ControverSunday post that you were meaning to comment on but didn’t get a chance to. Re-start the Conversation! (the ControverSunday page is also the best way to find old posts)

3) Share in the comments of this post what your favourite ControverSunday conversations have been, to get us all thinking about what we might want to post about/comment on.

4) Do all of the above! The more the merrier!

Happy Friday all!

ControverSunday: When bad kids happen to good parents

Okay team, lets get this party started! This weeks topic: When Bad Kids happen to good parents is brought to you by @breebop– if you are a twitterite go and say hello. Also, pick up your all important badge from Accidents and then write up your own post with thoughts on the topic at hand. And then come back here for the link up. (Notice how I didn’t make it sound like it was optional?)

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Tortured Potato

Friends, lets be honest, this is essentially a question of nature versus nurture. And what do I say to any question of nature versus nurture? Yes. Column A and Column B. Both.

First off, as I said in my intro to this topic, I don’t believe in the concept of a ‘bad’ kid. Yes, some children have more socially appropriate behavior, better coping mechanisms for anger or stress, or a more well rounded approach to life. But I do not believe any child is ‘bad’. Actually, I have a hard time believing that any person is ‘bad’. There are people out there that do horrific, inhumane, down right evil things, don’t get me wrong. But I believe they do so for deep, painful psychological reasons born of horrible, inhumane, and down right evil things that happened to them. Does this excuse or make okay the horrible things some people do? No. But I do think every person is born with the capacity to be incredibly kind, compassionate and good and to be incredibly cruel, hurtful and hateful. And some of us may have a greater capacity for one way or an other. (AKA Nature) But if and how and what we become? That is because of the collection of all our experiences. (AKA Nurture). So, when it comes to kids, I think they all have the capacity to be amazingly confident, intelligent, kind and compassionate human beings. They also have the capacity to be little rotters; disrespectful, unkind, engaging in dangerous behaviour.

BUT. Before I get into to the parents in the equation, let me also just say that I fully believe that we (the royal we, as in North American Society) have an unrealistic understanding of what is ‘bad behaviour’ on a part of our children and what is 100% normal developmental challenges, AKA kids being kids. We forget (or don’t realize) that the business of going from newborn to our early twenties is one of the most complex, face paced, disorientating series of physical, psychological, emotional and cognitive changes one could ever imagine. With all the change and all that to accomplish, we have to expect that our kids are not going to be able to handle it all with 100% composure. Heck, I can’t handle one stressful month with 100% composure! Babies and toddlers rarely sleep through the night 100% of the time. Toddlers challenge, throw tantrums and act out. Kids and Teenagers? Well I am sure do stuff too (I just don’t have the experience yet to know exactly what it is, but I am sure I am in for a ride). Growing up is hard to do, yo. So I think we need to be very aware of this when we discuss the concept of a ‘misbehaved’ kid. Are they really misbehaved or are they just going through the roller coaster ride we call childhood and need more of our support? ( also, even if they are really misbehaved the answer is still more support in my opinion.)

I think most patterns of misbehaviour are a normal part of growing up. You know, ‘it’s a stage, they’ll grow out of it.’ That being said, I do wholeheartedly believe that parents have an impact, and a big one at that.

Let me explain it this way. My daughter is working her way up to what we call ‘the terrible twos’. Which are called such because toddlers are notorious for challenging and trying to establish control. As Janet says she’s “doing her job.” That is a stage where kids exhibit some fairly ‘bad’ behaviour. But as her parent, I can have an impact, both in making the behaviour worse and in making the behaviour better. Clear consistent boundaries, really being present and giving her attention, a regular routine that helps her to feel safe; these are all things I can do to make the situation better. Getting frustrated, ignoring her because she is driving me nuts, letting her see me get really stressed out; these are all things that I can do to make the situation worse.

Here is the thing. I don’t know about you, but I am human. Which means by definition I make mistakes. Which also means by definition that in some way, some how, it is likely that I will ‘screw up my kid’. I don’t believe in the perfect parent.

What I do believe in is trying our best to recognize when things are going down a not so good behaviour path with our kids. Then trying our very best to be better parents so that we mitigate the potential negative behaviour in our kids. To do this we need to be honest with ourselves that sometimes, even things we do that are well meaning, may be having a negative impact. So we need to be the adult and do whatever we can to turn things around. Especially when our kids are young, because by the time they get to be teenagers I think our impact lessens somewhat.

And sure, there are bad parents out there. I don’t believe in bad people but I do believe in bad parents. Parenting is a skill and we all have the potential to be bad at a skill. Particularly if we don’t care and try and make the effort. And chances are that kids with parents who really truly aren’t engaged, reflective, caring, nurturing and loving… well those kids probably are going to struggle in terms of their behaviour. They don’t have someone helping them to learn the skills we need to lead happy lives. And that sucks.

But I do believe that most people are good parents. And as good parents we make mistakes and sometimes our kids suffer behaviour-wise for it. But we always have the opportunity to make things better. To learn a few new skills for that parenting tool kit and help our kids be better behaved as a result. We are all going to screw up along this journey, but so long as we are trying our best and being really honest with ourselves about our role in our kids behaviour, then chances are they will be just fine. Might still need therapy for when we wouldn’t let them become a synchronized swimmer (just kidding Mom!), but other then that, they will be just fine.

ControverSunday: To protect or not to protect

Welcome to ControverSunday all!

First off, I have to tell you all that Amber over at Strocel.com wrote a great post earlier this week, that while she didn’t brand official as ControverSunday (though she is welcome to), is on exactly our topic this week. So check it out.

Okay, here is the low down. Everyone is welcome to join. Just write up a post re: protection versus acceptable risk (see the topic post for more details). Grab your handy dandy badge from Accidents. And come back here to put your link in the comments so I can link you up in the post. And you can do that today, tomorrow or whenever this week.

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Ramble Ramble

Altered Sky

You know that parent at the playground who is letting their kid climb to what seems to be heights inappropriate for the age of the child? That’s me. (Wave and say hello when you see me).

That’s probably not totally true. Maybe some days more then others. My husband is likely to let Audrey climb even higher. But I still feel like I am more willing to let Audrey try things she may not be ready for on the playground then others.

Maybe I am paranoid, but sometimes I think I see a look in the other parents eyes that either they think I am being neglectful and not caring, or I am being reckless and don’t know what I am doing. Truth be told, as much as I would like to be more confident in my parenting, when I see those looks I tend to give in and hover a bit more closely.

But it is not just because of the looks I get from others. I find myself constantly battling two parental instincts. One is to let Audrey explore, make mistakes and learn, and the other is to keep her safe. You see, I think we have two main jobs as parents: keeping our kids healthy/providing for their needs and teaching them to not need us. And I think those two things often come into conflict; at least for me they do.

I am all for reasonable safety measures. There is no need to be reckless. Car Seats, not leaving kids unattended in the bath tub, holding hands while crossing the road, knowing where my child is; these are all good things. I appreciate how things have changed in the last 50 years (at least based on my unscientific observations about parenting in the 1960’s via Mad Men). We have done a lot of things to keep kids safer. Safer cars, homes, schools, playgrounds. Warning labels, less chocking hazards and guidelines. We ‘baby proof’ our homes.

But I think it has gone too far. (Maybe not with the peanut ban in schools; I hear the critiques of my last post that why should one kid be at serious risk so a few others can have their favorite sandwich.) But I do think we don’t give our kids the opportunity to learn, explore and build confidence because we are so afraid to keep them on anything but a short rope. We don’t just try and protect them from physical harm, we try to protect them from any emotional struggles. We try to protect them from the feeling of someone not liking them, or not be included, or not getting an A. Normal things that happen to us emotionally throughout our lives that we need to experience.

One good example is toddler play areas. My instinct is to step back and let Audrey do her thing. But I see other parents hovering around their kids and apologizing to me when their kid touches mine. Or plays in the same space as her. Or reaches for the same toy. Or whatever. Really? Why?

We spend a lot of our time at outdoor parks where, more often then not, sadly, we are the only ones there. We go to the indoor play areas for Audrey to be able to interact with other kids. And my feeling is that we should step back and let them interact and learn about socializing. That means not stepping in unless someone is at risk for actually getting hurt. (And I don’t mean ‘hurt’ like when a toddler pats an other toddler a little to hard. I mean actual hurt- like enough to leave a mark.)

I don’t care if your kid hits mine. Or if they fight over a toy. Or if they have to, I don’t know, actually work something out themselves. I want her to learn about interacting with others. Certainly I would step in if I saw her being unkind to an other child and explain that it is not nice behaviour. But the line at which we step in needs to move back a bit, in my opinion.

And I know this is just the beginning. The beginning of seeing that stereotypical ‘hellicopter parent’. I don’t want to be that parent. I would rather my kid skin her knee riding a bike on her own then have me right there all the time making sure she doesn’t fall.

Would I take my school aged kid to the park and leave them there for the day, a la Free Range parenting? Hells Yes.

Would I let my middle school aged kid take public transit to school? Hells Yes.

Would I let my teenager walk through the ‘bad part of town’? Hells Yes.

Our kids need to learn how to protect themselves. How are they to do that when we suffocate them with rules and over protection?

I don’t know. It is not a black and white subject for me. It is all shades of gray. I want to keep my kid safe, for sure. But when I see the confidence in her eyes when she does something that I wasn’t sure I should ‘let’ her try to do, Wow. She knows she can accomplish something, even if it is difficult.

I just wish we weren’t so afraid. We hear all these awful things that happen in the news and we panic. We don’t want our kids to eat Halloween candy for fear of poising. Even though every year there is a ‘feature story’ on the news about how poison in Halloween candy is pretty much a myth; the only kids to ever be poisoned that way were poisoned by a family member or family friend. Tragic, none the less. But not the same. We are worries about our kids being kidnapped. Which does tragically happen. But again, usually by someone the kid knows, not a stranger. Is our kid really any safer if we drive them to school every day instead of letting them walk?

You see, you can’t stop every possible bad thing for happening. You can try to take measures to keep kids safe, like car seats and teaching them about strangers. But you can’t keep them in a bubble. Nor should you. A child who is sheltered and protected their whole life.. they struggle as an adult, because they don’t know how to make good choices. They don’t know how to assess risk.

It sucks being a parent with all these topics of internal conflict. It sucks. And I can certainly understand that we have different tolerances for different amounts or types of risk. But I also think we have to keep our eye on the goal; a kid who is confident, makes good decisions, knows they can get back up again when they fall down. One that can assess a situation and figure out for themselves if it is safe. And one that knows that their parents will always be there when they need them, but that doesn’t really need them.

ControverSunday: Mommy Vices. Pass the Wine, hold the cupcake.

Welcome, ControverSundains.

This week, the ControverSunday topic is Mommy Vices. So Let’s talk. Join in the conversation by writing a post, getting your badge from Accidents, sending some love to Perpetua for coming up with this fantastic bloggy thing, and come back here and post your link for the link up. Or, just read and comment on the posts of those participating this week. It’s all good.

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The Cheeseblog

Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs

The Disgruntled Academic

We talked about this a bit in the ControverSunday posts re: The Culture of Pregnancy. But I will say it again. People start noticing/commenting on/ glaring at you/ trying to change your behavior re: mommy vices the millisecond they know you are pregnant. You know, that glare you get when you are in line at Starbucks? (From totally strangers that have no idea if you drink 3 cups a day or if this is your one cup for your whole pregnancy.) That’s the typically one, isn’t it? It starts there and just keeps going through out Motherhood. People suddenly have opinions. And not just about your parenting choices. There is something about motherhood that seems to make your bad habits fair game for criticism. Some bad habits more then others.

And some for good reason. Cigarettes, for example. I feel those things have no place any where near a pregnant women or children. Period. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to stop a parent smoking near their kids and tell them they shouldn’t, I believe they shouldn’t. Full stop.

But the rest of the mommy vices? Caffeine, chocolate, wine, cupcakes, trashy magazines, crappy tv, ect.? Whatever. Really. Some of these things warrant some caution well pregnant or nursing, but other then that…. whatever.

I have two mommy vices. Wine and food.

Mmmm wine. I do think one needs to take into account a couple things, re the mommy vice of alcohol. If you are pregnant or nursing, there is good reason to stay away. And I am always mindful of my ability to take care of A when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Getting yourself so intoxicated to the point that you can’t be a responsible parent? Not a good idea unless you have someone who is willing and able to step in for you. That being said- I likes my wine. And I will tell you honestly that I do partake in a glass or two a couple times a week. And when I was nursing? Well, I subscribed to the old wives tale about a small glass of beer in the late afternoon was good for milk production. I had a glass and enjoyed it. I suspect it did little to nothing for my milk production. But. It helped my stress. And I very much doubt it did any harm.

Here is the other thing- why are some mommy vices more no-no’s then others? For example, I have been pretty open about how I am not exactly the size/shape I would like to be physically. But I never got glares, pregnant or otherwise, when I ‘snacked’ on a muffin. Which is pretty much the same thing is cake. (Unless it’s one of my uber healthy mini pumpkin olive oil muffins.)

I am not advocating more judging. I think we Mom’s have it hard enough. And then to be held to some ridiculous high ‘but you are a parent’ standard? Seriously. I need my vices to get me through the day sometimes.

I am just saying that I find it odd the vices we pick on and the ones we don’t notice. We joke in pregnancy about the weird, largely unhealthy, food cravings. People even encourage a pregnant women to give into those cravings. But from a health standpoint, which seems to be on the grounds that most of the mommy vice judging is done, an unhealthy diet* is just as bad or worse then some of the other vices!

I guess what I am saying is that I get we are suppose to set a good example. And I am all for that. I certainly think I need to eat better to set a good example for my daughter. But give up wine? Never. Like never ever. I deserve a glass at the end of the day. And if someone thinks that’s not okay? Fine. But you aren’t changing my mind on this one. I like wine. I drink wine. I am responsible. End of story.

All that said, I have been thinking lately about the concept of indulgence. It says something about our society that when we are tired, stressed or upset we want to indulge in something which is not good for us. I don’t think one glass of wine a couple times a week is unhealthy, but my tendency to crave cookies, cupcakes and chocolate? Not so good. And I know it. If indulging in these things as much as I do is harming my health and setting a bad example to my daughter about using food for comfort, how is that okay? Why do I let myself justify that by thinking that ‘I deserve it’? I deserve to continue to cycle of being overweight and unhealthy? It makes ‘deserve’ seem like a pretty messed up concept.

I am not trying to judge anyone else here. I am just being honest with myself. I think it is completely reasonable for all of us to have something to turn to when we need a bit of comfort. And being a Mom is a hard job. But I do think we need to question ourselves when our ‘comfort’ is doing us more long term harm then good. Why can’t my comfort be going for a run? Or reading a good book? Why are we more comforted by vices then by good habits?

I am kinda coming up inconclusive on this one. On the one had I think there isn’t much wrong with many of the mommy vices, in moderation. On the other hand… why do we find comfort in things that are bad for us? There has to be a healthier way.

*I should clarify, re: unhealthy diet. I am a big fan of fresh, un-processed food. If you saw me in the grocery store with my cart, you would probably think my diet was pretty good. And it is. It is the extra’s that get me into trouble. I need to work on portion control and a number of bad things I indulge in too much: pastries, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, bread.

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