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Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Saturday, 07 April 2018 00:00

9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent

We all know too well, name–calling, cruel taunts, cyberbullying and physical bullying happen every day to kids across the country.

When your child is being bullied, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else—all you want to do is make it stop immediately. Janet Lehman, MSW explains what you can do to help your child—and what could hurt them in the long run.

At some point, your child will be picked on or will have his feelings hurt by others. We all have our trials and tribulations with our kids, no matter who we are. An unavoidable part of living is finding solutions to problems, even when they are not easy or comfortable.

In my opinion, bullying is a real problem that needs to be solved as a family. Our son was bullied in middle school and high school. We lived in a small rural community where he went to elementary school; the teachers were very aware of all the kids and very attentive. In some ways it was an ideal school. Unfortunately, they had no junior high or high school in our community, so we had to make the choice to send our son to a large urban school nearby.

Soon, he started to come home with some very disturbing stories about how other kids were teasing him, calling names and taunting him. These children didn’t have any clear reason why they were bullying our son other than he was the new kid; he was perceived as being different. Our son would come home each day with terrible stories about things that had happened. My husband, James, and I tried hard not to react too strongly when he talked to us. We did not want to seem too upset about it, because we really wanted to listen to what our child had to say without making it worse by over–reacting. We tried to remain as neutral as possible, but we were not always successful. Our son was upset and depressed, and it broke our hearts.

How to parent effectively in difficult times.

Over time we were able to resolve these issues as a family, but I want to stress that it didn’t happen overnight, much as we wanted it to. It took a lot of work with both the school and our son to find a solution to the problem. Along the way, we learned some valuable lessons that I believe played a big part in resolving the issue for our son.

The Secret to Happier Parenting
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 00:00

Becoming a happier parent

The Secret to Happier Parenting

We're running ourselves ragged taking care of our children. But it's better -- for us and our kids -- if we're less hands-on.

Although I don't think of myself as a "hyper parent," the kind whose children -- with their daily obligations and social commitments -- have taken over her life. After checking homework, signing permission slips, and setting up playdates, I'll confirm plans with the babysitter -- not for a date night, but to attend parent meetings at school. Our 2-year-old is too young for most activities, but there's no time anyway. Sometimes when I do have a quiet moment to reflect, say while sitting on a plastic mushroom in the playspace at the mall, I wonder, "Where did my life go?"

That's not to say I don't treasure my children or my time with them, which I do, immensely. It's just that, frankly, it's work being a parent in 2015. Our generation of parents is not only expending more mental energy on our kids -- from tallying their screen time to monitoring their sugar intake -- but we're with them more than ever too. In 1995, mothers spent an average of about 12 hours a week actively attending to their children, not including regular time "around" their kids (like at dinner or during solitary play), according to a University of California, San Diego study. By 2007, that number had risen to 21 hours. That's nine additional hours of hands-on parenting every week. (Fathers still trail moms in child care but in that same time period they too doubled their hours of hands-on parenting.)

On the surface, it's great that we're spending more time with our kids. Where things have gone wrong, however, is the pressure that parents feel to invest every morsel of energy into our children and their budding future -- and the guilt we feel when we can't be there because we're working, exhausted, or both. "Mothers used to send their children out to play and not expect to see them until dinnertime, so kids learned to amuse themselves, be self-sufficient, and solve their own problems," says Leslie Bennetts, a mother of two adult children and the author of The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, a whole book about the dangers of women sacrificing their own life in the name of "good" parenting. "But women today feel incredible pressure to supervise every waking moment of their children's lives, micromanage every activity, and involve themselves in every challenge their kids might face."

I mull over Bennetts's take, and think ... "busted." I have a window open on my tablet about a parent-toddler swim class. I've been feeling mildly guilty that my youngest doesn't have her own thing, in part because I work full-time. My friends likewise routinely talk about how they're "bad moms" because they missed the sign-up for peewee tennis lessons or couldn't attend the latest midday celebration at their kid's preschool.

How does a mother get to a place where she feels lesser-than because she hasn't signed up for Aqua-Tots? "The pressure to manage kids puts a ridiculous amount of stress on mothers and makes them feel horribly guilty for working or having an independent life," says Bennetts. "We shouldn't feel guilty at all."

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