Finding Ways To Make Parenting A Little Easier

Parenting is hard. I think that’s one thing we can all agree on. Which is why it’s so important to create that village that everyone talks about. We can’t exist on an island; we need community support, group think, and sometimes a big bottle of wine to get through the tough times. Not to mention that it enriches our lives to have someone to share the good times with.

Here’s group think from around the web this week:

 

Who Run The World? Girls!

Trying to raise exceptional girls? That’s no small task. But in this article from The Washington Post, five different mothers share what they are doing in order to raise girls who are strong, smart, successful, and caring. These five girls who are profiled are all changing the world in their own unique way, and your child can too. It’s worth noting that many of the tips in this article can also be applied to raising incredible boys!

 

The Heavy Burden of the Mental Load

While there are plenty of Dads out there who are doing their fair share to help manage the work/life balancing act, research has shown that Moms are the ones who carry the heavier burden of the mental load. Jennifer Folsom, author of “Ringmaster: Work, Life, and Keeping It All Together,” shares her tips for how working moms can unload some of the burden of the mental load in their lives.

 

Laughter Is Sometimes The Best Medicine

We might have a different approach to raising our children, or different preferences when it comes to the foods we eat, but there’s one thing that’s universal to all parents: lack of sleep. This mom nails it in this funny article from Mommy Nearest about all the ways she’s been woken up since becoming a mom.

 

Meet A Parenting Expert: Aparna Venkataraman

Name: Aparna Venkataraman

Website: www.beautyinparenting.com

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Tell us about what you do. I am a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and a ParentTeens Certified Member. I am also a big advocate for DoTerra Essential Oils, because they are natural solutions for families’ needs for immune support, stress relief, skincare and help both children and adults to learn more about the wonderful uses for plants and flowers!

How long have you been working with parents and children? I started volunteering at non-profit organizations that serve families when I was just 15-years-old. I have always loved working with children, and as an adult, I have been able to have a professional career in doing so. I’ve been working with children of all ages in schools, children’s hospitals and non-profit organizations for the past 12 years.

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? My mother is a very compassionate person who has both worked for, and volunteered at many non-profit organizations. She encouraged me in my teen years to get involved locally. I studied psychology during my senior year of high school and LOVED it. I went on to receive a B.A. in that area, as well as a social work educational certification. I am very drawn to human behavior and humanitarianism in general!

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? That they will have the energy to be everything for everyone 24/7.

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? Children as young as 5 years of age now have knowledge and access–through social media, entertainment, etc–to topics that I did not know about until I was a pre-teen. On the one hand, there are benefits, as children can become very knowledgeable in many different areas, but on the other hand, they socially develop at a much faster pace than parents can sometimes handle.

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? I find that when parents and children are able to have regular self-care practices that suit their own needs, and not ones that they feel pressured to do by peers or family, they are best able to have a life filled with moments that feel flowing, joyful and easy!

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? I love sharing tips and resources in my weekly newsletter and free companion e-guides on parenting with essential oils. It is incredibly fun to regularly reach parents, grandparents and educators of children of all ages, and to know that people all over are enjoying the benefits of aromatherapy!  I also recommend journaling to creatively express and help heal yourself. Take a look at “Practice You” by Elena Brower. She is really great and also has a youth journal coming soon! 

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? I will be presenting on fun self-care and beyond for families. My discussion will incorporate essential oils and 8 simple techniques, including breathwork, for both parents and children to take a pause in your day.

Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life

Better, Happier, Stronger…Parents

The whole premise behind conscious parenting is really for parents to heal their own traumas and control their own emotions in order to parent from a more calm, authentic place. That’s clearly not the easiest thing to achieve! This article in the Washington Post was written by a teacher, who has 12 tips for how parents can be happier and more effective with their children this year.

We’d like to add a 13th tip to the list: attend the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference on April 25th! You’ll have the opportunity to learn from one of the best conscious parenting experts in the country, Dr. Shefali (who also happens to be Oprah-approved!). Tickets are on sale now.

The Gift of Teaching Your Child When To Quit

I really related to this article about giving our children permission to quit without always feeling like a failure. The author says it better than I ever could: “When we do have setbacks, we’re urged to rebrand them as opportunities instead of feeling disappointed. Fail up, fail smart, fail forward. Get your vision board. Get your gratitude journal. Get your can-do attitude and mantras and wash your face, girl. 

But in the midst of all this well-meaning encouragement to follow our dreams, I think we often neglect to give kids the skills to deal with what happens when things don’t go according to plan.”

Seeing Things From A Different Perspective

This touching video gives you a whole new perspective on parenting. It demonstrates that the things we, as grown ups, tend to find so challenging can be magical and memorable for our kids. I am going to try to remember this the next time I am strapping my screaming octopus of a toddler into her car seat, or get annoyed that my 5-year-old still wants help to put on her shoes (even though I know she can do it herself!). I’ll try to take a breath and make the moment funny, or silly, or happier for my kids and it will most likely make my life easier in the process.

Meet A Parenting Expert: Juliet Marciano

Name: Juliet Marciano, MD

Website: www.marcianoparentcoaching.com

Location: Wyndmoor, PA and the globe

 

Tell us about what you do. I am a PCI Certified Parent Coach® , a retired pediatrician, and a mother of four young adults. I support parents of children with special needs, high needs, extra needs, and different needs, working with them to have a calmer, more conscious, more connected, and more confident parenting experience. I help parents reclaim the joy of parenting, no matter what challenges they face or struggles they encounter. 

I have a Medical Degree (MD) from Drexel University College of Medicine- Medical College of Pennsylvania, I have received my Parent Coach Certification® through the Parent Coaching Institute, and I have completed the Mindful Schools Mindful Educator Essentials (K-12 Curriculum) Program.

How long have you been working with parents and children? I began my career as a pediatrician 30 years ago. I practiced pediatrics for over a decade before I retired to spend more time with my children, and I dedicated myself to finding information to help my own family with some challenges my children were facing. Over the years, I continued to share parenting information and offer support to parents regarding non-medical matters.  As my children grew older and our family continued to thrive with the knowledge and skills I had acquired over the years, I decided to complete a Parent Coach Certification® program and I continue to help families as a Certified Parent Coach®.

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love children, love being with them, and love taking care of them. When I was four years old, my mother placed my newborn baby sister in my arms, and I was hooked! I babysat during my childhood and teens, and because I loved children and science and had a thirst for knowledge, a career in pediatrics seemed a perfect choice! As a pediatrician, I enjoyed spending time with my patients and felt great satisfaction in providing care during times of both wellness and illness. I was honored to be a trusted resource for parents, and I enjoyed helping them navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys of parenting. 

Yet, when my own children had challenges, I couldn’t find the help I needed! So much of the information I was given wasn’t appropriate to my situation or was in conflict with my values. I spent years trying to find the information I needed, and using that knowledge I was able to experience a tremendous change in my own life and my family life. Parenting my own four children has been the greatest joy of my life, and I wanted to help other parents reclaim the joy of parenting–no matter what challenges they faced with their children. I know that many children and families are suffering, and I want to help them in any way that I can. I’m thrilled that now, as a Certified Parent Coach®, I can work with parents as they incorporate new ideas and make changes in their lives that will transform their families for generations to come!

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? I think parents often think about the physical demands of raising children and don’t put as much thought into the enormous emotional needs of children. Children are counting on us as their parents to help them navigate their world. They want us to teach them and guide them, as well as learn from them. Many parents have learned to ignore their own emotional needs and they can be somewhat overwhelmed and inexperienced when their children have needs that must be addressed. Our children offer us the opportunity to examine our own feelings from our childhood that may never have been explored or resolved, and this can be an added challenge for parents if they don’t understand this. Also, parents often begin parenting with an idea of what kind of parent they will be and expect their children to just go along with their plan. Instead, parents must become the parent their child needs them to be and learn to accept, respect, and embrace their children for who they are, which is often very different from what the parents had imagined!

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? There are many challenges facing families today, including the prevalence of screen use and social media, the high stress culture in which some children are raised, the prevalence of mental health challenges in children and parents, and the unrecognized presence of unresolved trauma and conditioning in parents that affects their parenting.

I think an often unrecognized, yet significant, challenge facing parents today is the criticism and shaming of parents and children. The internet and social media make this more obvious and widespread, but this has been going on long before the presence of social media. Labeling parents with derogatory terms, like “helicopter parents,” “lawnmower parents,” “snowplow parents,” and “bulldozer parents,” and describing an entire generation of children as “spoiled”, “lazy”, or “entitled brats” is harmful to families and society. Whether delivered by a sarcastic internet blogger, a judgmental commenter on social media, or a vocal stranger out in public, parents and children suffer when their experiences and reality are summed up and reduced to such labels.

The parents I work with often have children with “invisible challenges.” They can have a physical, mental, emotional, or learning difference and the parent-child relationship in these families may look “different” to the outside world and may not be fully understood. As a result, they are often the recipients of harsh judgement, criticism, and hurtful parenting “advice.” For many parents who need assistance with their parenting challenges, the fear of criticism and judgement prevents them from seeking help. A similar fear can prevent children from sharing their feelings and seeking help when going through a difficult time. One of the most important needs of any individual is “connection.” It’s not possible to “connect” with someone in an authentic way when we fear sarcasm, judgement, and criticism when we share who we really are and what we are experiencing!

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? When a child has challenging behavior, parents often feel powerless and out of “control”, both of the situation and of their reaction to it. I think one of the most powerful things any parent can do for themselves and their family is to find a way to be calm and stay calm, and I tell parents that having the ability to stay calm and be a calming presence is a gift they can give to themselves and their family. I also encourage parents to maintain a sense of curiosity about their children, about their behavior, their feelings, and their experiences. In my own life, practicing mindfulness and meditation has helped me to be and stay calm and have more of a “non-reactive” curiosity and acceptance of life and “the present moment.” I recommend to all the parents I work with that they explore mindfulness in some way.

When parents are able to stay calm, they are able to view their child’s behavior as what it is- communication of an unmet need, an unlearned skill, or an unsolved problem. When we view behavior in this way, our response to challenging behavior will be curiosity to figure out what is being communicated and how we can calmly work with the child to address these issues.

When parents are not able to stay calm, they often react in anger, frustration, exhaustion, or from a place of trauma. They are not available in the moment to help their struggling child, and in fact can add to the intensity and emotion of the situation. If a parent can stay calm, they are able to be a loving, supportive resource for their child in challenging times. This helps parents create and maintain a connection with their children no matter what challenges they are facing as a family.

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? In my coaching work with parents, I’m able to share what I have learned from the many experts and thought-leaders I’ve encountered over the years. Some of  the people who have made a significant impact in my life as a parent and a professional are Dr. Shefali Tsabary (especially the concept of “Conscious Parenting”), Dr. Daniel Siegel (interpersonal neurobiology and neuroplasticity), Dr. Ross Greene (Collaborative and Proactive Solutions), Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, (mindfulness and meditation), and Dr. Jack Kornfield (mindfulness and meditation). Any of their books, websites, or podcasts will provide valuable information to parents.

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? At the conference, I will be giving a talk called “Family Matters- Parenting in A Family with Special Needs or Extra Needs.” In the talk, I will discuss how to effectively address parenting differences and sibling issues when a child in the family has special needs or extra needs such as any physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or learning difference.

PhillyTweens: Helping Parents Navigate Tween-ness

We’re so lucky to have the support of our sponsors to help us build a stronger experience for our conference attendees in April. Paige Wolf, is a mom to two kids, including Sam, who is officially a tween, and also the founder of PhillyTweens. We sat down with Paige to talk about what makes this stage of parenting so hard to navigate and why she’s looking forward to attending the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference this spring.

What made you want to launch Philly Tweens?

We all need advice, resources, access, and, sometimes, just commiseration. That was the reason I started my first blog and book, Spit That Out, and now that my children have reached new milestones, it’s the reason I started PhillyTweens.

As a writer, I’ve been fortunate to share my personal stories of everything from postpartum anxiety, chronic illness, parenting, sexuality, and even mundane day-to-day issues. I’ve seen first hand how some of these stories have touched people, and I’ve also had my perspective changed by thousands of stories I’ve read online. When I’ve gone through difficulties in my own life, reading the stories of strangers has often been the anchor I needed to pull me back to shore.

I want the site to be a resource for everything from sharing events, activities, and businesses to expert advice to personal stories from both parents and kids. Because it truly does take a village – on and offline.

What do you want people to know about the Philly Tweens site?

I think it’s really important for people to know that “Philly” isn’t just the city. I am based here, but the content, listings, and resources on our site apply to families in the suburbs of Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware. Everything is so close and many of us travel a bit to access different resources, schools, camps, and activities. And much of the content is universally relatable!

I also want people to know that anyone can submit a first person story, even anonymously, and that includes tweens themselves. I really hope to get more varying perspectives from all different kinds of kinds and families.

How is being a tween today different than prior generations?

Middle School age has been notoriously rough since…maybe the beginning of time? Adolescence, puberty, hormones, angst, braces, pimples, bras, bullies, cliques! But now we have social media, texting, YouTube, and cyberbullying. Not to mention the horror of school shootings and the overall scary political climate. It’s a whole new ballgame and we need to be there to support them however we can. 

On the plus side, we live in a world where kids can HOPEFULLY feel a little safer being themselves in terms of gender expression and sexuality. But we all still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. 

What are the biggest challenges you face as a tween parent?

For me the biggest challenge has been screens. My son is addicted to Roblox and YouTube. I know that many parents put their foot down on this, but we just haven’t. We try to engage him and make it a part of what we talk about so at least we know what he is doing and we make sure we are guiding him away from anything that we think could be harmful. We’ve also lost much of our control over what he eats and just encourage him to make healthy choices. My daughter is only 6, so not yet a tween, though she acts like it sometimes!

I’ve also found that so many of the kids we know, including my own son, deal with anxiety. I am an anxious person so it’s not particularly surprising. It’s good that our generation is generally more aware of kids’ emotional issues, but navigating that is still really difficult. 

What are you most looking forward to learning about during the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference in April?

I love conferences that bring people together, especially parents. Sometimes just meeting the other parents there is the best source for commiseration and connection. I also love that this conference has speakers on topics on dealing with all ages from baby to teen. So there is really something for everyone.

How can people find more information about Philly Tweens?

Follow us on Instagram @phillytweens, like us on Facebook , engage with us on Twitter, and of course, visit our website: www.phillytweens.com

 

This Week In Parenting…

Parenting presents you with a variety of challenges at all stages–there’s no escaping the stress of it all, but there are ways to better manage it. If you don’t learn how to practice more self-care (one of our big intentions for 2020!), or tap into a bigger network of friends and family for help, you’re likely to burn out. Being mindful of how much you are taking on and asking for help when you need it will make all the difference this year.

How to Know If You Are Burnt Out

A certain amount of stress is reasonable every day, especially as parents, but how can you tell if you’re on the verge of burning out? This article from SELF Magazine defines burnout and lays out 4 different signs that the stress you’re feeling might actually be burning you out.

Dads Today Spend More Time With Kids

Good news: dads today are spending more time with their kids than dads of prior generations. In fact, research shows that modern dads spend three times as much time with their kids as their fathers or grandfathers did. And attitudes about a father’s role in both marriage and raising children are far more progressive and egalitarian than ever before. Society hasn’t totally caught up yet, though, as some people still make comments about dad’s “babysitting” their children when mom is away.

It Takes A Village

Writer Anna Nordberg explains why kids need a strong network of supportive adults to thrive for the Washington Post. Nordberg encourages this support network to include “teachers as well as family friends, and parents should welcome these relationships, as long as boundaries are being maintained.”

Helping Teens Succeed In Careers

College isn’t necessarily the best option for every child. If your teen doesn’t want to go to college or isn’t particularly academic, don’t panic; this article lays out all the reasons why you should consider having them learn a skilled trade so they can go on to have a successful career as an electrician, or a plumber, or a carpenter.