Keeping our kids safe: what our leaders are doing and what we as parents can do, too

Many anguished parents across America have come to recognize Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter, Meadow, in the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14. With his face flashing across various news channels, his passionate anger is palpable when he says straight into the camera, No more. “We’ve had 200 school shootings in America and it’s got to stop,” he recently told CNN. His life-long goal going forward, he says, is to make schools safe. “My agenda is to have kids go to school without worrying they’ll be shot.” His posture and message serve to summarize the mood of every parent: Fix it! Enough already.

Read in full in Houston Family Magazine (pp 10-13).

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Family Travel Helped Our Kids Make Their Own Memories, Not Simply Step Into Ours

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We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and a decade later traveled back to show our daughter and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane, where our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago.

Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.

They transformed our time in Germany into a nonstop quest to conquer towers.

Any signage with Schloss (castle), Feste (stronghold), or Burg (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception, we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin, up the cramped, damp, spiral stairs to the lookout tower.

These ruins–unlike American historic sites—lacked the warning signs, the guardrails, the attendants and the guides. There were no disclaimers posted, no emergency phones available if help were needed, no brochure map to navigate the castle ruin’s maze. Kids sprinting from dungeon to teetering tower were solely under the protection of their parents.

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine

Teaching Our Kids to Love Fully in an Unfair World

Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.

Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.

Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.

As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favorites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.

In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine.

Blogging Improved My Child’s Writing- Maybe It Could Help Yours

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“I’ll only pay attention to your argument and how effectively you state your case. I don’t care about spelling, grammar or punctuation,” I said. My son’s shoulders relaxed. I could sense him exhaling the tension. Friction between us over writing assignments abruptly came to a halt and I could breathe more easily, too.

My son’s weekly assignment quickly became a hit because it released him to write freely without fear of messing up. Spelling in particular had paralyzed him but now he wrote, unrestrained. I also let my son choose the topics that interested him, so long as he defended his position on the subject.

Since I gave him control over the topic, he owned his work in a new way. He felt energized and motivated. It was still an assignment, but it felt less like ‘school’ for him. In fact, it went so well that I gradually nudged him towards two, sometimes three, posts per week.

Read in full,  Review, Texas Home School Coalition, pg 19.

‘Be kind to one another’: The importance of sibling relationships

Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting. If you want your children to have good relationships with each other, make sure you’re modeling the same with your own siblings. Kids are learning from our actions!

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‘My teenage son and I left the house to walk the dog just as my phone started buzzing. “It’s Aunt Bren — I’ll call her back later,” I said, letting it go to voicemail. My son wondered how long it had been since I last spoke with my younger sister, and encouraged me to return her call that afternoon.

“Have you always been close?” he asked. I opened up and told him about our stormy relationship as kids. His fun-loving, attractive aunt was the one who got blamed for everything that went wrong. Guilty or not, she bore the brunt, and was probably punished numerous times for things I’d slyly pinned on her.’

Read in full here.

 

Our Kids Wanted To Make Memories Of Their Own, Not Step Into Ours

It’s really fun to remember this trip, taken so many years ago during the early days of family adventure. Germany will always have a special place in my heart. Glad to join Today Parenting Team’s discussion on travel & kids.

“We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and gave birth to our first child a mere ten days before returning to the US. Ten years passed before we could travel back to introduce our daughter to her birthplace, and show her and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane.

I hoped our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago. Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.”

Read in full here.

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Online Sharing: Are You Hurting Your Family

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I’m honored to have my essay published by Oregon Family Magazine!

“As social media mavens, we want to be remembered. Often apt personal anecdotes are the best way to connect with our followers or Facebook friends and drive a post’s popularity. But when it comes to sharing about our significant other and children, the line of decency can often feel blurry. 

The question is weighty, worth the internal wrestling. 

The What, When and Why: My personal habits on sharing family-related content start with timing. I allow time to pass before I post about an experience that directly involves either my husband or children. Looking back on an experience affords many advantages. 

Waiting to share publicly helps me to more completely understand and process what happened in the first place. When I have a family-related post idea, I’ll write a rough draft, revisiting it as my thoughts mature and clarify. Mulling is a very good thing; at the very least it keeps me honest about my culpability in a personal family anecdote I’m considering sharing. For starters, what is my motivation for sharing?” 

Read in full on Oregon Family Magazine.

 

 

 

Use Your Words! Encouraging Expressiveness in Children

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Honored to publish Use Your Words! Encouraging Expressiveness In Children with ParentMap.

“A scuffle erupted in the adjoining room between the two cousins. The din was unmistakable and the next moment, the sweaty girls bedecked in matching pink and purple Disney princess nightgowns burst into the room to tell the adults what was happening. 

My toddler wanted to be the explainer: “Maddy was pulling my hair. I was pulling Maddy’s dress. I was so frustrated!” Chuckles erupted that this disheveled Cinderella had enunciated a word so much bigger than herself and with such conviction. Though her tantrum didn’t make me happy, her ability to choose her words did.

I found her word choice reassuring because as a 30-something mom, I was concerned about how to nudge my verbal firstborn toward accurate, expressive language. She was quick, parroting every word dropped around her, enabling her tendency to sass back.”

Read in full here.