Stop Telling Kids to ‘Do What You’re Told!’

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5354370

I know I have not posted in a few weeks. I should resume weekly postings soon. This here supports authoritative parenting style over authoritarian. Allow children learn by experience and exploration. 

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birds and the bees

I have been writer’s blocked for a few days, but inspiration for this post was inspired by recent happenings and a recent episode of “Wild Kratts” .  Recently, my son has been asking for a baby brother or sister because other children in his class have siblings, and he is lonely.  Unfortunately, circumstances of my lack of employment, and a partner to have a child with, having another child right now is not ideal.   One night recently, he did ask how did the baby get into the mother’s tummy.  I told him that the dad put part of the baby inside the mother.  From that, he thought that the dad had the top half and the mom had the bottom half (like a puzzle).  I explained that it is more like two seeds.  Like most young children, he is very curious and wants to know more.  Well it was bed time and after that I told him to go to sleep and I will tell him more later. 

Like most parents, I have been pondering how much should I tell my young child.  How much sex education does my 5 year old really need to know” I realize that he is really smart, and I also know that one day the kids at school will be talking about it.  When I was his age, I was lucky that my parents gave me detail about what a uterus was, and I even remember looking at a children’s dictionary with my aunt and there was a picture of a fetus.  I learned then how a fetus develops.  There was one thing I was missing at this age, how the baby got there and what is the dad’s role in this baby growing process.  In 5th grade we had a puberty unit with the talk about both boy and girl reproduction.  During this unit, the teacher told us that sperm fertilized the egg.  Even at this point, I did not get how the sperm got into the woman’s body.  It was not until 8th grade that I figured out what sex was and how it lead to a woman getting pregnant. 

 

One thing that every parent wonders, “when should I tell my children about the birds and the bees?”

Should it be when they are 13, when they start wondering about sex and have early crushes? No, unfortunately it is a bit late by then.  Possibly around 10, when they start puberty and their bodies are changing. well some girls go through puberty as early as 8 or 9.  Well then you start thinking how most 3 year olds are asking “where do babies come from”, especially if it is around that time when mom is pregnant with the next one. 

What if I told you that it should have started from day one?  No, you don’t need to sit your new born baby down and tell him or her how he or she came into the world.  You don’t even need to talk.  when you hold your baby and show affection, you are teaching love.  The way you interact with your partner, you are teaching your children how married couples should communicate.  When you are potty training your child and you use words like “penis” or “vagina” or “vulva” instead of “wee-wee”, you are teaching your child to be comfortable with his or her own body. 

 

Children tend to pick up the idea that babies come from inside the mother early on.  The birth of a younger sibling is the best time to open the discussion of birth and reproduction.  This situation does not always happen in a timely matter, and well someone has to be the last child.  the birth of a cousin or other relative, or younger brother or sister of a close friend can also be a good basis.  In my own situation, there were no pregnant mothers near by during the recent years of my own child’s early childhood years.  He did go to daycare and enjoyed visiting the babies.  He was interested in the babies and saying how cute they were.  I don’t remember exactly how he found out, but he learned around 2-4 years old that babies come from the mother’s tummy.  That is all a child that young needs to know.  If they ask, you can tell them that the dad helped put the baby there. 

I remember recently, of all times he had to ask, he was sitting on the toilet pooping when he asked, “How do babies come out?”  I told him that the mom has a hole in her bottom. 

As the child grows, it is best to give the information gradually in small short conversations.  Talking about sex should be just like talking about anything else, you don’t talk about how the engine of a car works with a two year old, just talking about how the wheels roll is all you need to talk about. 

As the child gets older, you can add more detail and explain how sex works.  By the time a child is about 12 or 13, you can talk about values and the importance of birth control.  I also encourage parents to be open minded.  This does not mean that you let your teens be willy-nilly and do what they want, but you explain to them what your values and beliefs  are, but also explain how other people feel. Talking about sex and sex values is also like talking about religion, and religion can be included in this topic.  If your family practices strict religious beliefs, include how you feel about sex before marriage, as well how you fell about homosexuality, but also  allow your children to understand that not everyone follows your beliefs.    Also understand that as your teen grows and develops into a young adult, he or she will develop his or own beliefs. 

One conversation I would have with a young teen is a “what if” conversation.  Don’t wait until your teen daughter tells you that she is pregnant and you go into panic mode and try to make decisions. Every parent (I assume) does not want to be in this situation, but it could happen.  Just like how no one wants a fire in the house, but from early on, everyone knows what to do when it happens.  Discuss what options are available (adoption, abortion or keeping the baby) and what are the consequences of each. Understand that what she does, she should have some input on it.

A similar conversation should be had about homosexuality.  Even the most open minded parents should let their children know that they are open minded and will love them and accept them for who they are.  If one of your children should come out, they should feel safe to do so. 

Bottom line is, parents should be open about communicating with their children.  Parents should be the first “go to” when their children are in a situation that is not easy or pleasant. 

 

 

Popsugar- Parent styles

Popsugar- Parent styles

about a week after I wrote my post on parent styles, I just read this article on parent styles.  This is a more modern take on the traditional parent styles I discussed last week.  Some of these can be overlapped as the ones that I wrote about.  Helicopter and tiger parenting can be descried as types of Authoritarian parenting.  Free ranged parenting or baby led parenting could be types of permissive parenting. 

bottom line is that everyone parents differently, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to parent, as long as the children are loved and grow up well adjusted. 

choosing battles

I am writing here today from personal experience.  One of the best parenting advice is to know when to say “no” and when to “let it go” (try to keep Frozen references to a minimum)

Last week I mentioned the importance of having healthy boundaries for children, and I will continue to emphasize the importance of doing such, but I also will emphasize the importance of letting children explore, be creative, become individuals. 

One problem that many parents face with young children is that they don’t always eat what you want them to, or when you want them too.  It has been emphasized that it is important for families to eat together, especially with the busy lives of everyone having their own thing to do with after school activities or club meets. I recall watching Sesame Street with my son, and there was one segment  The three bears had different things to do and wanted to spend time together.  it was suggested that they ate dinner together. I remember reading an article on the internet somewhere that centered around one solution to all eating problems of small children, “you don’t have to eat.”  One of the problems that I always face with my son is that he is always busy doing something and is hard to break away.  I praise whoever invented the pause button, because it has saved us from having a battle between dinner and whatever movie he chose to watch that day.  there have been times where he would eat two bites, then say “I’m full”, then run back to what he was doing before.  I usually try to get him to come back for “5 more bites” but that tends to lead to “five little nibbles”.  At this point, I a pleased that he showed up to dinner, and tried to eat.  He just might not have been hungry at that time.

One thing about my boy is his creativity and imagination.  Recently he has been found wearing not just his Iron Man mask on his face, but his patriot Iron Man mask from Halloween on his back. A good example of “choosing your battles” can be outlined in this situation.  his “Iron Man identity crisis” costume is obviously off limits for school and church, but Iron man is welcome to dinner, as long as he still uses his table manners. (he figured to life his mask up to eat).

 

 

parenting styles

I will start with stating as before, this information is from a combination of lectures that I attended during my studies from Towson.  

One foundation of family, parenting, and child development studies is the study of parenting styles.  It is important to study parenting styles because how a child is raised will determine how he or she will grow up and self discipline.  Children know what they see, and tend to live their lives based on how they are raised.  I will acknowledge the fact that some will try to steer away from their upbringings, and live their lives quite differently than their parents’.  But this decision was based on how they perceive how they are raised.  One example would be an individual would be raised in a harsh, strict house hold.  This individual could choose to either raise their own children in the same harsh, strict way because that is all they know, or choose to be less strict because they don’t want to put their children through what they went through.  Both decisions are based on the past.  

 

The first parenting style I will discuss is the authoritarian parenting style.  The best way to remember this one is to think of an authoritarian government or a dictator ship.  This is the strictest form of parenting.  Rules are rules and there is no room for discussion or change.  If curfew is set at 10 pm, it will always be at 10pm, and coming home at 10:05 is late and chances are the child will be punished the same way as if he or she came home at 11pm.  

Those who were raised by parents in the military, or in poor neighborhoods, or are Asian (or other stereotypical strict/respect your elders background), or raised by those who either have high authority in their job, or have a strict, in- and- out 9-5 job.  A real good popular example would be the family on “Sound of Music”. 

 

One positive side of this style of parenting is that the children can predict the rules, it may be easy to expect children to follow rules  (at least while they are at home).  Often, it may seem necessary in a poor, or disadvantaged neighborhood with high crime rates. Children must be home by a certain time to avoid being caught up in the wrong thing.

 

The disadvantage to this method  is that you can only have control in your own home.  once the children are at friends’s houses, or out on their own or in college, they can rebel. With out the opportunity to have some control over their own boundaries, they try to test boundaries on their own.  I have a friend who had a strict childhood.  There was one particular boy that her dad did not want her dating.  She would see him at school, and I remember her telling me that some nights he would sneak to her house and climb through her window.  One time she said that she was going to meet with some friends, and he was there too. She is quite smart and would have done well in college, but ended up meeting the wrong kind of guy.  She lived with him for a while and took advantage of her financially,  I love her parents, almost as much as my own, but I remember them slightly over the top, as we Millennials call it “helicopter parents”   Even as a child, she was told she could not watch “Simpsons”, but would watch it at friends’ houses. 

 

Not to be confused with Authoritarian, Authoritative parenting is quite different.  There is room for discussion and input, like democracy.  Curfew might be at 10 pm, but if you call about traffic, or state that you might stop for something to eat before going home, being in by 10:15 or 10:30 is o.k a few times.  Or 10 pm may be the usual curfew, but prom might be until 11 or 12, and it is o.k. as long as you are home as soon as possible.  

Kids who are raised in this parenting style tend to learn negotiation skills and are able to set their own boundaries.  I don’t remember having a set curfew, but I mostly went out usually with other adults and my parents knew that I would be home safely with them.  As a younger child, I played outside with neighborhood friends until it was dark, which was 9pm some nights in the summer.  I was a relatively  well behaved child and very few rules and boundaries were set.  I knew early on that I was not going to get anything I asked for, so I was content just looking at the toys (Mostly Barbie) at the stores.  If I did misbehave, I was sent to my room for a short period of time.  I don’t remember being “grounded” for extended periods of time. I was well behaved at school, I never had detention or was suspended.  My parents were clear about the rules they did have, and I knew what they were.  

 

Permissive/indulgent parenting is possibly the weakest form of parenting.  We all want our kids to be happy, but we need to set boundaries for our kids.  permissive parents let their kids have what they want, when they want it.  They try to be their “friend” instead of their parent.  I am not trying to judge anyone, but this may be a result of teen parenting, or not being fully prepared to have children.  It is simple, if you let children do what they want, they will and do everything you really don’t want them to. If you give a toddler a cookie after crying and screaming for one, they are going to cry and scream for what they want.  If you let teens do what they want with their boyfriends, or girlfriends, be ready to be grandparents.  Just like a too strict of a house hold, a too lenient house hold could lead to individuals with no understanding of boundaries and how to respect those above them.  

 

The last form of parenting is the neglectful parents.  These parents ignore the needs of their children.  This is closely related to the permissive parenting, but these children don’t receive any form of affection.  These parents are the ones sleeping while their children are out and have no idea if they came home on time or safely.  They are the ones who are texting or in the car, while the children play on the playground.  

I had a friend who had a poor upbringing,  she had little to no boundaries. She had clothes and shoes that I was never allowed to wear, and her grandfather just handed her money when she asked.  her mother was never home when I was at her house.  She had a hard time respecting my parents and had no concept of curfew. Unfortunately, she was also abused by her mother and I had to witness some things that no child should go through.  One day she could get away with murder, the next she could not even go outside.  

 

Bottom line is that children need boundaries, but they are also in need of tools for creating their own when they are older.  They also are in need of affection.  They need to know that you care for them, and that you want them to be safe and become responsible individuals.  

 

families and parenting