I really hope this doesn’t come across as too much of a rant. And I do want people to know that I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination. I love nude art and the human body, in the right context, and I strongly advocate healthy sex lives in consenting adults.
That being said… Good grief is it ever difficult to raise an eight-year-old in today’s media saturated world!
In an effort to teach good habits at a young age, I encourage my kids to journal before bed even if they just draw what is on their minds. Well, last week as I was making my daughter’s bed, her journal lay under her pillow open to a picture she drew of Miley Cyrus twerking in front of Robin Thicke.
This is my third daughter. I’m quite versed at the “sex talk” by now, and having been a registered nurse and a psychology student my talks are long and frequent and increase in detail as the girls get older. Again, I am not a prude. But, being the parent, I REALLY would like to be in charge of what they learn, when, and to have what they learn be accurate.
My daughter is 8 years-old, she loves animals and Minecraft, she loves pop music and loves to sing Cimorelli covers. And, she is curious about what the kids at school and her older sisters have to say about this twerking media frenzy. So she goes on YouTube (on the computer in the middle of the kitchen armed to the teeth with parental controls) and searches Miley Cyrus. Lo and behold, the newest video Miley released has her naked as the day she was born riding a wrecking ball!
Have you ever felt like that bubble you are trying to put around your kids is just an illusion on your part?
The other naked thorn in my naked side revolves around Hedley’s new single and video. Anyone who knows me well knows I have been a HUGE Hedley fan from the time Jacob Hoggart graced the stage of Canadian Idol. Not only for their music, but also for Jacob’s blog posts and clear stand against the mainstream media machine. I know in my heart that their video for Anything is meant to be a parody of current culture (and if it’s not please let me live in denial), however, I can’t/choose not to watch that video or listen to the explicit lyrics with my 6 and 8 year olds in the room. I fear the day that my kids go looking for it themselves knowing how much I love Hedley.
Yes. I clearly remember how freaked out my parents were when Madonna wore the cone bra and Cher had the see-through lace body suit on the MTV awards. And their parents freaked out about Elvis’ hips. This is nothing new, really. I am just concerned about where all this is going. How are they going to up the ante next time? How are they going to get even raunchier and more titillating than completely naked?
Unfortunately, YouTube answered that question for me.
After watching Cirque du Soleil on Netflix with the kids this weekend, I searched for more of their videos on YouTube and stumbled across this one called Zumanity. Warning: NSFW due to simulation of nudity and simulation of sexual acts… yes, in a circus performance…
Is this a sign of the times? Is Naked the New Black? Is my only recourse to making sure my children are raised with my values around sexuality to start teaching Sex Ed at home to a 6 year old?
Like every mom, I also ask myself: Am I overreacting?
Some choices are easy and come naturally like no matter how much your 3 year-old whines and screams you choose not to feed him chocolate cake for breakfast every morning. Other choices can be a little harder, but with some education and weighing pros and cons you eventually choose whether breastfeeding in public is right for you. But the hardest choice I see most mothers make is the choice to work or stay home.
Confession #1: I was “supposed” to sit down to my keyboard this past Tuesday and start working on my next book. It has been the plan all summer. Well, Tuesday was a bit rough because I realized that my youngest is in school all day now. He lost his first tooth. He sits at a desk and not in a circle on the floor. He eats lunch out of a box. My oldest daughter is now in her last year of high school. My kids are growing up and my mommy role is changing.
So I didn’t write on Tuesday, or Wednesday. You can’t force your muse. And by Thursday morning, when no muse showed up, I decided that I was a useless waste of space and needed to go get a real job outside of the house while the kids were in school full days. Looking at the online job bank was enough to send me into a deeper depression than an absent muse. You see, I chose to give up being a registered nurse before I had babies with my second husband. When my third daughter was born I chose to take time off from building my homeopathy practice, add a fourth child and a few months off work turned into 8 years. My job options today, without returning to school to recertify, are Tim Horton or Wal-Mart.
Have you ever had to choose between going back to work and putting your child in daycare, versus staying home with your children and having your career skills and advancement opportunities go stale? Have you had to choose between giving up a second income and risk mind-numbing boredom from lack of adult conversation, versus not seeing your child that you absolutely adore for eight to ten hours a day?
After the depressing morning of escalating worthlessness, I then stumbled upon this video on Upworthy calling maternity leave a racket! And then I get this email message from Miss Representation stating that a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that female doctors in the U.S. are paid, on average, 25% less than male doctors. Both a clear slap in the face at how unfair the world is to the gender that has the super power of creating another life! Just because we make babies, and many of us choose to feed these babies with what our own body produces, we are “punished” by losing our relevance if we are away from work too long, or get paid less if we take the jobs that allow us to be home with our families every once in a while.
I am more than just a little outraged.
Confession #2: I’m not really looking for a job. Every writer beats themselves up about getting a real job at least six times a year.
I have a job. My job is to empower women (and some men). My job is to listen to moms who are battling with life changing decision, like going back to work, with a third party unbiased ear (unlike the opinionated mother-in-law or the overly agreeable best friend). My job is to inspire women into trusting their gut and seeing their inherent worth despite a society hell-bent on making them feel like the lesser gender. My job is to write. And the muse is back and ready to enable me to be of service to you.
What had been the hardest decision you ever had to make as a mother?
Have you ever been faced with a question like this from your child? How did you reply?
My two younger children, six and eight years-old, have asked us a lot about money lately. Most recently, as we sat at the dinner table and talked about our family trip out west, and a visit to the largest mall in North America, my son asked point blank if we were rich. My husband, a baby-boomer who was raised in a middle class family that owned their own home in the suburbs of Ottawa, quickly replied NO. He was clearly uncomfortable with the question. I answered that yes, we are rich, making my husband even more uncomfortable.
There are two influences at play here. One is perspective. Quite different from my husband, I was raised in a working-class family. We rented and moved every year or two, except for a longer stint when we owned a trailer for about 5 years. Later in life I was a single mom of two kids. There were times when I had to choose between groceries and gas for the car, because I couldn’t afford both. Today, from my perspective, we are rich.
The other influence is the social conditioning we have around money being evil, and guilt for both having it and wanting it. This can be a religious conditioning found in many of the world religions, but I also see it socially with the whole “we don’t talk about money in polite company.” I certainly want to teach my children that there is so much more to life than money and what it can buy. I also want my children to have an appreciation of everything in our lives that money cannot buy. But I am not sure I want to raise my children to feel guilty or dirty when it comes to money.
I am conflicted myself sometimes. I do wholeheartedly embrace the fact that the more money you make, the more you are able to help others. You can employ more services like a housekeeper and more frequent hair dresser and esthetic appointments, which helps increase their earnings (and if you have read Half The Sky, increasing a woman’s earnings helps with their independence. Great book. Highly recommended.) You free up more of your time to volunteer, and you are able to donate to causes you hold dear. But I also remember where I came from. I never want myself or my children to connect a person’s worth to their income. Too many of us have that prejudice running through our subconscious. And then we either avoid abundance, or feel guilt for it, because we don’t want to be, or cannot believe we are, better than others.
I truly feel that my husband denying that we are rich is because he doesn’t want our children to think they are better than others.
In all honesty, my children are at the age where they are visiting my family of origin’s homes, and their friends’ homes for play-dates, and noticing that we all live different lifestyles. Just like my two older kids knew we had little money when I was a single mom, my younger kids are asking if we are rich because they see a disparity. My husband saying that no, we are not rich, is only going to work for so long until they start making up their own mind. His discomfort around talking about money and embracing our abundance is also going to influence our children. While I don’t want them to feel superior to others, I am not sure that I want my children to wear feelings of guilt and shame.
This blog post is not a “how to”, and it is not about me providing you with answers. I decided to write this because if I am struggling with the concept of money and abundance after having lived in both poverty and the middle class, I am sure you probably have too. My only solution at the moment is open communication. Telling my children that we are not Oprah-rich but that we do have more money than some of my family, and stressing that it does not make us better people. Explaining that by doing a good job and earning a good living we are doing a good thing, because while we may have more nice things and a bigger house we are also helping a lot more people.
Part of my way of helping people is with my free ebook and weekly Sanity Saving Tips. Those are much more how-to oriented and more about finding the balance in your life. You just need to pop your name and email address in the form at the top right of the page.
Has the money talk been raised in your house? How do you talk about money with your children?
If you are a mother, I am sure I do not need to explain this. Going on vacation with 2 or 3 or 4 kids means extra packing of not only clothes but stuff to keep them entertained, and especially quiet on the flight or drive, extra planning if you have to work naps into your sight-seeing schedules, extra vigilance if you are near animals, cliffs, or the sea. Oh how I long for the days of warm sand between my toes while reading a novel, but with kids your eyes are forever scanning the shoreline and counting heads.
Where does the relaxation come in when vacationing with the family?
Well this year, I am being proactive. Yes, I have to pack and plan and be vigilant, and yes, I am going to do all the things my husband wants to do like visit military forts, and yes, I am going to do all the things my kids want to do like visit the dinosaur museum and the shopping mall, AND I am planning on a little something extra. When we go for a hike into the Rocky Mountains, I am going to teach my family to meditate…. Muahahah!
If there is anything I have learned along the way, and one big lesson I try to convey to all my clients, is that it’s all in the perspective. You can see the glass as half-full or half empty, or you can see the glass as completely full with both water and air!
So I will not be sipping on fancy drinks with umbrellas in coconut cups, and I will not be waited on hand and foot by a Grecian god in a Speedo, but I will be with the people I love the most in the world. And I will have to give a little and visit sights I wouldn’t choose if I were on my own, but their happiness is worth it.
You can see going away with your family as a chore, or you can see it as an opportunity to view life through their eyes, to learn new things about the world from their angle. You can jump into the joy of being a kid again, because that is definitely a change from the daily grind. And you can do like I am doing, plan to inject a little piece of your own heaven and share it with the people you love.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time off with my family, and I am also very excited about coming home to launch the Time-out for Mom Program. Be sure to sign-up early because spaces are limited for this inaugural launch.
Doesn’t it just break your heart to have your child come home from school in tears because of something a classmate said?
Don’t you just want to go to the school yard and put the eight-year-old tyrant in his place?
Sometimes I would rather take 40 lashes than see my children with a broken heart—especially my third daughter who is such a loving, giving, always happy yet sensitive girl.
A couple of days ago that daughter brought her birthday party invitations to school and handed them out to all of her friends. That evening she came up to me to say that her friend Jayson made fun of her for inviting Molly. The tears in my daughter’s eyes were like a fifty pound weight in the pit of my stomach.
Jayson has been telling my daughter to avoid Molly all school year. I had been giving her the whole “in our family we are respectful to all our friends and we don’t exclude people if someone tells us to” talk and the “be a leader” talk for months, but I guess the birthday invitation fiasco was my daughter’s last straw.
Lying in bed that night, I was pouring out my heart to my husband at how cruel children can be, and wondering where children in grade two learn to be so exclusionary and judgemental of each other. My husband answered with a snicker. So I sat up and looked at him and asked, “What could you possibly find funny in your daughter being stuck between two friends that she really likes?”
“Look at your friends Marie and Josee. They can’t stand each other and are both constantly questioning why you associate with the other. You plan separate events all the time so you can have one over without the other. This isn’t just in grade two.” He replied.
Do you have friends that can’t stand each other? Do you accommodate them? Do you ever feel bad, embarrassed, or judged for having to defend why you spend time with either of them?
People Pleasing vs. Leadership
What am I teaching my daughter by accepting and accommodating two friends being judgemental towards each other? What are those women teaching their children by being rude and exclusionary about other women?
Our kids learn by example. They may not understand the fine line between being respectful to others and people pleasing, but they sense our undertones of resentment when we are not being authentic.
Our roles as leaders and role models are extremely important. And one of the most important things for me as a woman to model to my daughter is respect for myself and respect for others through self-care and healthy boundaries. I see too many women with the disease to please and the desperate stench of needing to belong and be loved. Which is I am devoting a large part of my career to empowering women through programs like “Mom’s Much Needed Time-Out.”
So what are you modeling for your children? Have you ever had a child with a broken heart caused by hurtful things a classmate has said? Have you ever been hurt that way too? How do you deal with this situation?
Have you ever sat down in a nice restaurant and unfurled your linen napkin to the symphony of a toddler’s tantrum in the background? Did you silently wish for the waiter to move you far, far away? Were you not craving a break from you own kids?
Have you ever been on the other side of the drama? Desperately trying to calm your three-year-old after saying no, she cannot use the pepper mill as a hammer on the mahogany table?
This was my Saturday evening.
My family went out for dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday. She chose a high end restaurant; the kind with the dim lighting and dark wood paneling, the kind you go to for an adult’s dinner. There were six adults, one teen, two children, my sister’s toddler and her 6 day-old baby.
Later that night my sister called in tears.
She was so embarrassed that her two-year-old kept standing up in his highchair, dumping a small bowl of dipping sauce in his lap, which she thought reeked throughout the restaurant…
My sister’s perception of the evening was a fiasco.
Yet my perception was a beautiful gathering of our family.
How can two people at the same dinner table have two completely different views?
What is worse judgement or fear of judgement?
Even though my perception of the evening was different, I know exactly how my sister felt. Every mother has been there. At some point, while raising even the quietest angel child, every kid loses it.
They don’t want to leave the park. They want the sugary cereal at the grocery store. They start undressing in the food court at the mall. They go into a long monologue of what their poop looked like this morning at the quietest part of the movie at the theater.
And all we want to do is curl up and die of embarrassment. You have been there at some point too haven’t you?
Why then, if this is part of the human condition, is there still deep-seated shame when our children are not perfect in public?
I immediately turned from sister into coach mode in order to help my sister.
Part of the problem is that we think others are judging us, when really they are more concerned about themselves.
Raising a child is by far the hardest gig out there. It is not for the faint at heart, and it is never going to be perfected, because we are raising human beings. Considering that my sister pushed a seven-pound baby out of her nether regions a whopping six days prior, and still managed to round-up the family and make them look presentable enough for a fancy restaurant is to be commended not criticized.
Anyone who needs to complain about a restless toddler needs a reality check of their own.
Next time you see a frazzled mother dealing with an unruly child, do me a favor and tell them: We’ve all been there. This is a hard job. You are doing great. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. And feel free to give them my name, because I am here to help.
Have you been on the receiving end of criticism of your parenting skills in public? Have you ever felt ashamed of your child’s behavior? Please share in the comments below so that my sister sees that she is not alone.
P.S.: Here’s a shot of my niece. Isn’t she the sweetest thing you have ever seen?