So, I have been writing for Her Magazine for quite some time now. On average, my blogs are comprised of something social-work-related. I normally give some sort of advice. Such as tips on how to manage certain emotional struggles, or practical advice on how to get through a rough day. My blogs are usually based, for the most part, on issues that arise in my own home in combination with themes that I see at work either with my clients or through case supervision with my peers.
I find that writing about all these issues is a terrific outlet for me.
Aside from being able to help many of my readers, I also personally find that writing about all these issues is a terrific outlet for me. It gives me a reality check and forces me to face certain dynamics in my own relationships, or figure out how to manage certain stresses in my life.
But today’s blog is going to be a little bit different. It is not going to be advice, or suggestions or dos and don’ts.
Today, I merely want to express myself and the tremendous pride and gratitude that I am feeling toward my three daughters.
As some of you know, having my children was no easy task.
My husband and I went through years of fertility treatments, uncertainty and many losses. At times, I still find it hard to believe how blessed I am, and I sometimes just catch myself staring at these little girls, whom I created, in pure awe and amazement.
The last few weeks, for the most part, have run very smoothly in our home. Not an easy task. Despite the busyness of choir performances, after school activities, birthday parties, Bat Mitzvahs and lots of typical girl drama, my husband and I have a lot to be proud of.
More than any other achievements, however, is my need to recognize how terrific my girls have been with one other.
And although for the most part our lives are crazy and chaotic and full of sibling rivalry, there are, at times flickers of hope and hints that my children do actually like each other. They may, dare I say it, even love each other…
It is as if something has all of a sudden clicked…Why is it they are being so nice to each other? Or loving? Or supportive?
My children have not always got along. And don’t get me wrong, they still bicker plenty. But lately I have seen more maturity…a mutual dependence between all three of them. The older two are demonstrating more patience and understanding toward the younger one. My middle girl is more tolerant of her baby sister without feeling so hard done by. I cannot explain it, yet there are numerous times of late where I feel the house has run more smoothly because of the improved relationships between my children. Less jealousy? Perhaps. More support? Maybe. Just plain growing up? Thank God!
Or am I just becoming more aware and tuning out the bad stuff?
Probably a combination of all of the above.
Whatever it is, it is working, and I could not be more proud. And knowing that the girls are not out to hurt each other at every waking moment is certainly a source of comfort to all of us.
So is it true what they say? That life gets easier as we get older? That we spend less time doing for them, and we can start reaping the rewards of our years of hard work and hands-on-parenting? I look forward to seeing how our story, the story of my three daughters, continues to unfold.
Thanks for listening. I needed this.
Image: Three Sisters Print Inspirational Whimsical Folk Art by Lindy Longhurst.
Over this past weekend, my husband and I did something that we have never done. While our youngest was at a birthday party, we let our two older kids take the bus to a restaurant, eat there on their own, and then bus it home. Alone. No parents. Wow.
While they kept in touch with us every step of the way via their cell phone, we felt such a sense of pride and fear all wrapped into one. When did they get so grown up?
What possessed us to allow such behaviour? True….the weather was beautiful and seemingly the whole neighbourhood was outside. The sun was shining. People were generally happy and smiling and relieved that the winter might actually have come to an end….Or maybe it was because we have seen such tremendous growth and maturity in our kids over the last several months that we were just ready to let go of those apron strings and give them more independence.
Now just to be clear, my older two children are two years apart. And for many years they fought like cats and dogs. They still do bicker all the time. But when they approached us requesting to go on this adventure, there was a calm and sense of unity about them. They listened to our instructions intently and seriously. They knew this was a big deal, for us as well as for them. And my husband and I intuitively knew that they would be just fine.
So instead of getting the tantrum like demand such as “We can do this on our own!” or “Stop treating us like a little kids,” we got a well thought out, polite request from our children to consider allowing them to leave and share this adventure with each other. Some true sister-bonding time.
So how can parents assess whether their children are ready to take on more adult responsibilities? And to move them more from dependence to independence? Is it intuitive, as suggested, or does it need to be more planned out?
Probably a combination of both…
How to Give Your Child More Independence:
#1 – For the most part, most kids step up really well when given responsibility. By gradually increasing the level of responsibility that we give them, even before we think that they are ready, we are embedding in them feelings of confidence and trust that they are up for the task.
#2 – Our kids need the space to decide some things on their own, even if it means parents need to take a step back and allow their children to arrive at these decisions in their own time. This includes watching as our children do some things wrong and make some poor choices along the way. Our children will fare a lot better if they feel they are in control of their decisions. Parents can suggest ideas over and over to their children, but if our children feel the ideas are their own, they are more likely to follow through on them.
#3 – As hard as it is, and from experience, it can be brutal, we as parents need to ensure that we do not continually force our opinions on our children. As much as we would love for others, particularly our children, to respond and react in any given situation the way we would in the same situation, we cannot force it. We need to teach our children values and encourage them to stick to their value system when they make decisions.
#4 – Parents need to pick and choose their battles with their children. Particularly in the tween/teen years, there will be many battles. We need to learn how to zoom in and focus on the real important ones. And we must recognize that sometimes the important battles are those that are important to our children and not necessarily to us. Our children need the freedom to express themselves in their own way. So do I make a big deal if my daughters go to school with two different socks or a streak in their hair? Not at all. As long as they are dressed for the weather and are not showing too much skin, I frankly do not care how they dress. If they have dressed themselves independently and without incident, I consider that morning a success.
So I suppose from a parenting perspective, this weekend was a success. As we are confident that there will be many more weekends like the one that just past, we are just as sure that there will be as many parenting moments which will flop.
One of the primary responsibilities that we have as parents is to teach and train our children to be successful adults, as the motto goes….one day at a time.
As my children get older, they are beginning to ask more about the cost of things. They are interested in the latest fashions and trends. They want what their friends have, and are not shy to ask for it.
With my eldest daughter in middle school, she is becoming more and more aware of what other girls her age are wearing. Brand-named clothes. Certain ways to wear her clothes.
To be clear, my husband and I have never felt the need to buy certain brands for the sake of just having them. We have always talked with our kids about shopping smart, and looking for good quality instead of the name on the tag. We are always comparing prices in the grocery store, or figuring out whether sales are in fact good deals. And figuring out how best to spend our money.
Experts agree that teaching kids about money and the value of the dollar needs to begin at a very early age. As early as we start to teach our children their manners.
Children as young as four years old can be taught the concept of saving.
Slightly older children can witness us paying the bills, calculating what something is going to cost whether at a grocery store or a restaurant, and discuss with our partners (in simplistic terms for the sake of our children’s understanding) how the money earned that month is going to get divided.
It is imperative that as our children grow, they learn to understand the financial impact of our economy and understand that saving for a rainy day is a necessity, not a choice.
If parents do not talk to their children about money, someone else will. It is inevitable that our children are going to learn about money and spending. Just like they will discuss sex and school and their hobbies with their friends, they are also likely to discuss, compare and learn the value of the dollar from their friends.
Ideally, wouldn’t most parents prefer this learning to come from them? So what are parents supposed to do? Where, if at all, should they draw the line when it comes to discussing money matters with their children?
Is it appropriate for our children to know what our hourly rate is at work in order to gain an accurate understanding of how much we need to work to be able to afford the clothes they wear or the food we put for them on the table?
There are no right answers to these questions. But the following list can help guide us in how me talk to our children about money matters.
Dos and Don’ts for Teaching Kids about Money:
Talking about money is not easy for parents to do. It is a touchy subject, which needs to be handled with sensitivity. Regardless, I am a true believer in being honest with our children. Children are smart. They understand a lot of what is going on around them and they absorb information that they hear.
As long as we, as parents, continue to communicate with them, guide them and ensure they are being taught at their own developmental level, our children will grow up feeling respected and understood and develop a proper understanding of how money gets earned and how money should be spent. And if they do not, they could always ask.
Image courtesy of kongsky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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