Sunday, November 10, 2013

Helicopter Parent...Are You One?

This evening, someone shared a recent article about colleges claiming that helicopter parenting has gotten very out of hand for some college students and their families and they have a new title for these matured "helicopter parents." They are now called "Snow Plow Parents!" The article discussed the issues that students and their parents face when these kids head off to college. Parents have been known to call professors to dispute grades, RA's to resolve roommate issues, even going so far as to installing tracking devices unbeknownst to their children to see where they are going and what they are doing at all hours. It sounds insane, because it is!! Not too long ago, though, these now so-called Snow Plow parents were the typical Helicopter parent that many of us know, or, even though we are loathe to admit, may be ourselves. It's no secret that the generations that are coming up are very different from generations before them, as technology and availability of resources have abounded. But this article hit me on two levels. First off, as a parent and secondly, as an educator. I am a teacher myself. I am also a graduate student working on my Master's Degree in Counseling. I originally stated an opinion on my personal social media page, but decided I wanted to delve a little deeper. Am I a Helicopter Parent? Are you? And if we are, what can we do to stop it? How can we make sure that we are raising our children to stand on their own two feet? Let's look at some key areas where parents are likely to freak out and how to handle it appropriately, I will focus a large amount on school. Public schools or private schools, it seems that educators are constantly under fire from society. There seem to be constant things to monitor with our children from the lunches they eat, the test they take, the friends they play with or don't play with, their grades, their development, etc. So what do you do when they have a missing assignment? What do you do when they get in trouble? A lot? What about when they aren't chosen for the school play or the talent show? What about when they don't make the team or the elite squad? What is really advocating for your child and what is being an over the top, not preparing your child for reality, helicopter parent about to inherit plowing equipment? Let's see. Case #1: Your child gets a conduct mark. It is OKAY to find out from the teacher exactly what went down IF your child cannot tell you what they did wrong. This is pretty typical in younger kids. If it seems to be a wild accusation or the mark came completely out of the blue, it is definitely alright for you to check in with the teacher to see what happened and how you can help. Notice, how you can help. Not how you can get that little blemish erased from your baby's conduct record. Look. Every kid, I don't care how perfect and wonderful you THINK they are, they can each have a bad day. Maybe the teacher caught them in a lie, and maybe your baby didn't mean for it to be a lie, but the kid lied. So take it. Let your kid take it. Your kid may be sad and cry. Hey, give a consequence at home to really make it meaningful. But don't tell the teacher, 'My baby would never!' Um, yes, your baby would and your baby did, so deal with it. This sends a great message to your child. It tells your child that you understand what happened, you understand your child made a mistake and that both you and your child's teacher are on the same page of helping your child learn a lesson so that your child doesn't do that again. Case #2: Your child is always in trouble. Come on. You know your kid. Instead of attacking the teacher and accusing that the teacher is taking it all out on your baby, problem solve! Are there different places your baby can sit? Does he need to be moved to a different group? If he or she is easily distracted, are there manipulatives or things your child can play with to keep him or herself from distracting others yet still able to stay on task. Trust me. Your teacher doesn't want your kid to be in trouble all the time. But I'd be lying if I said that an overly attacking or accusing parent doesn't change our attitude. Case #3: You looked up grades and GASP!! Your baby has a missing assignment or a ZERO!! First, talk to your child. Think about attendance. Was your child out recently for a doctor's appointment or an illness? Chances are, your child has the assignment rotting away in their backpack. Don't just assume that it's in the daily folder. Kids never put things where they are supposed to be. If your child is clueless, email the teacher or make a phone call. Give the teacher 24 hours to respond. It could simply be the assignment has only been taught to one group but the assignment is in all the gradebooks because honestly, it's easier to create assignments for all classes and fill in as they are taught. If the teacher doesn't get back to you, phone and schedule a conference. Then find out what happened. If your child has a zero, find out what they can do to get it done. If your child is older, like fourth grade up, your child should be included on the conference. The responsibility is ultimately your child's. It is not yours. If your child still does not get it completed, then they have to live with that grade and whatever consequences come of that choice. I would rather my kid sit out on the big game than have his lights turned off or his car repossessed. Just saying. Case #4: Your child failed a TEST!! (Or they got a B, and to you, this is a failure.) As kids get older, they become more attuned to grades, especially if they are very type A and always used to being perfect. Your kid may be super bummed they got a B. They may even cry. Find out what was on the test from your kid. Was it over a certain lesson? A culmination of various topics? Chances are, your kiddo just missed a couple of questions and that's it. Or it could honestly be that your child just did not know the material for whatever reason. In all my time in schools, I was never tested on something I had never been taught at some point in my life. For example, main idea. Main idea is taught a bazillion times in a bazillion ways between the ages of Kindergarten and Senior Year. Main idea is main idea is main idea. If your kid struggled with it before, they may still be struggling with it. Don't assume the teacher is wretched and horrid. Again, schedule a conference if your child is truly upset, and include the child. Sit down with the teacher and find out what happened. If your kiddo doesn't understand the material, find out if the teacher can tutor or if there are things you can do at home to reinforce the skill. This teaches your child SO much!! First, you did listen and you wanted to help, but by including your child, you are modeling the skills your child needs to approach his or her superior when they don't know what happened or how they messed up, whether it was a test or a paper. And you also teach them to accept failure. And that the world will still turn even if they got a C instead of an A. Case #5: Your Kid Doesn't Make the Cut There will always be someone faster, smarter, better, prettier, more popular. If your child doesn't make the team or the elite squad or whatever, again, failure happens. It is not your kids fault. It is not the coach's fault. It is not your fault. Your kid didn't make it. If they really want to make it, they can keep working on their skills and practicing and try again later. And maybe they won't make it again. Let your kid decide what to do. And let them know it's ALL good. Your kid doesn't have to be the end all be all of Football. Your kid just has to be happy and honestly, how you handle the rejection will help him know how to handle the rejection. I could go on and on and on with many instances of what can happen. I've been through some with my own kids. I've been through all of it as a person. And I am a great person because my parents supported me, but they allowed me to get through life's disappointments with guidance from them, not them controlling everything for me. My mom wrote in my baby book that she wanted her kids to have two things in life: Roots and Wings. Roots to never forget where you came from and Wings so that you can fly on your own. But please, I beg you. Don't bad mouth your child's school, your child's teacher, the district your child goes to, the university, the coach or the team. It is so hard sometimes to be a teacher and to read all the terrible things that people say about those of us in education. We do not do what we do for money or fame. We do it because it is our passion and our calling. We try to be good role models for your kids. To hold them to higher standards and high expectations because life is going to hold them accountable for everything and you are not going to be able to save them from all the tragedy or failure that WILL happen. And it WILL happen. Life is not a fairytale. Bad things happen that are beyond our control and how will your baby handle that if you have always been able to swoop in and save him, berate that "stupid teacher" and stand up for your baby and all of a sudden, you can't swoop in when their marriage fails, or they lose their house, or their child is born and things didn't go like they should or they become a widow at a young age. How will your baby cope? And what would you have taught him? It is so much more than swooping in at school or checking their social media pages. It's more than being a Helicopter or a Snowplow. It is the character and the backbone you are molding for your child. If you know that you are a Helicopter, admit it and start taking the steps to change. Your child will be SO thankful that you did. Blessings.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Allow me to explain.......

I will never live a day without thinking about NAIT. Ever. I will always look at my kids and think about what could have been. There are many reasons for that. The main reason is because the fear and worry you lived with for so long never really goes away. It stays etched in your heart and your brain forever. You never live in a Pollyanna State ever again. Another reason I'll never forget is because I still play a huge role in the NAIT community, whether it's working with naitbabies or giving plasma for ProfNAIT, or just offering support to other NAIT moms. I'm never far removed from our little circle. I see constant reminders of what could have easily happened to my children. I wonder why it didn't. I really was never a tough person until we were struck with NAIT. Some people may say I'm crazy to still think about it, to still question things. But it never goes away. It just doesn't. It makes you harder. And yet, more sensitive, more vulnerable. More protective. A few years ago, my oldest child's behaviors were being questioned. Was he "normal,". I will never be able to explain my reactions to the questions. I look back now and realize I was irrational, but yet I still remember the fear that gripped me. It was like being back in that sterile hospital room in 2007 hearing something was wrong with my baby. My world was shattered in that moment. I had to fight like hell to have another baby and I thought that once we survived that, I could survive anything. But when my child was being questioned again, my hard, tough outer shell I had learned to build crumbled again. And I was that scared mom, crying alone at night while my baby was hooked to tubes far away from me, with no answers, no explanations. I will always be a little like that. A turtle. This hard tough exterior with a squishy inside. Just the right amount of pressure and I will crack and I will be a mess. A NAIT mom last night talked about how she's coming up to her son's first birthday and how painful it is. He bled. He survived, but he's no longer "perfect." It hurts her. She talked about her brave face she wears for her family and friends. She knows she's blessed that he's here and he survived, but it still hurts. She longs for another child, she wants more children in her family and yet she is frozen with fear. I know those feelings. Sometimes I felt like I was dying a little at a time on the inside when I told my kids' stories. And while I'm okay to an extent now, it will never really go away. And I know my kids aren't perfect and that they may be a little quirky or crazy, and I try really hard to not be a helicopter mom and I try not to make them perfect by living vicariously through them. Most mothers are neurotic by nature, but it's worse when things didn't go like they should have. So yeah. Those are my ruminations on my life as a NAIT mom. I'll always point my kids out to you, tell you how cute and smart they are. You'll probably think I believe my kids are so bad ass. And you'd be right. I do! They are my perfect, goofy, quirky little children that should have had different fates. Everyday I feel like I witness a miracle. So try not to judge me or them too hard. I'm never too detached from those scared feelings. The scab is there, but if you pick, I will still bleed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Woohoo!!

Well, thanks to my journaling, I went down about two pounds!! It may not seem like much, but I don't have much to lose to begin with. I've also gone down 1/2 an inch on my bust and hips. Onward and upward (or downward, as it were.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 3

Breakfast Sandwich 7 Watermelon 0 Two stuffed shells 7 1/2 cup of banana pudding 4 1 piece bread 3 Salad plus dressing 1 Banana 0 Pringles (four) 1 Sonic Drink 2 Sausage 6 Crawfish 3 Corn 2 Watermelon 0 36  Points 5 Bonus Points Used I felt like this was a good day because we were having a luncheon for my student teacher plus I went to a cook off.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 2: I love me some runnin'!!

Brkfst 7 Banana Bread 2 WW Meal 8 Watermelon 0 2 Apples 0 Chicken leg and thigh 8 Potatoes 4 Carrots 0 Watermelon 0 Banana 0 Total 29 Exercise 27 minute run 5K = 4 points earned I'm feeling good today on day 2.  I'm more focused on what I'm eating.  Plus I ran today and did a personal best on my 5K!!  I am not planning to eat my exercise points today because Jeff and I will be at a BBQ cook off and I want to save my points just in case.  Since I went so far in to my points yesterday, I'm going to have to really track through the weekend, which is when I become very tempted to nibble.  I finished out strong with lots of fruit.  The banana's potassium always helps with leg cramps from running and watermelon is a fruit that's high in Lycopene.  Onward to day 3!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back to Weight Watchers

While I'm certainly not overweight, I've slipped back into old habits that combined with my newfound love of running has led me to a thicker waist line. I tried to deny that I'm not eating differently, but I just put the proverbial pen to paper, and just today, I ate almost DOUBLE my daily allowance!!! Yikes!!! But I'm not going to say, 'Oh, I'll start fresh tomorrow...'. HELL NO! I will be accountable!! Here is my journal entry and my reflection afterwards. I'll check back in tomorrow and journal again. Since I am no longer battling NAIT, my blog will now be dedicated to battling the bulge, and still trying to be a badass!!! Cereal 7 Corn dog 6 Raisins 8 Ranch and carrots 1 Goldfish  3 Animal Crackers 3 Doritos 3 Salad 10 Yogurt 8 Total Points 52!!!!! 23 points into weekly bonus How do I feel?  I definitely cheated myself.  I've also been lying to myself.  I seem to fall into this trap and always come back to WW.  So I'm on a journey again.  My current weight is around 140.  My goal is to be 132.  Im really enjoying my exercise, but I've used that as an excuse to not count my points.  Thankfully, by exercising, I've not ballooned, but obviously, I've got to get my butt back in gear.  Back to it, I guess!!  Watch this space!!  Official weigh in on Wednesday in one week!!  I'll be journaling daily!!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fight Like Hell

Very recently, a Dear Friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is in her early 40's, married to a wonderful man, and has four children ranging from the ages of 6 to 18. She is busy, she is a writer, a mom, a teacher, and a dear, dear friend. Everything she does is GOOD. Everything. She and her husband have taken on many things in their lives that others would deem to be just too challenging. My friend has a heart that is so big, so loving. Why her? Why does someone good have to be given such a low blow when she has already had to climb many, many mountains and trudge through very deep valleys? Right now, she's in that point where she's mad as Hell. And who can blame her? A diagnosis of Cancer!! With such a beautiful family!! And the unanswered questions.....what will this do to her? To her family? To their finances? To her precious life? But the mad is good. You have to be mad as Hell in order to FIGHT LIKE HELL!!! If you've ever been given news that threatens life, there is no other way to explain how you feel. It's like the stages of grief. You go through Shock and Denial: NO!! This isn't possible!! NOT ME!! WHY ME?!!!! Then you go through Pain and Guilt: How will this affect my family? Why didn't I do more? Say more? How selfish I was! I didn't appreciate everything enough! Then comes Anger and Bargaining: you're mad as hell........THIS ISN'T FAIR!!! I HATE EVERYTHING!!!! Please, God!! If you take this away, if you make me normal, I promise to.......... Then comes the Lonesliness, the Depression and the Reflection period: nobody gets this. Well maybe they do, but I don't know who has really been through this. Even if they went through this, it's not the same. I feel so alone. I feel so weird. The good news is, after the depression goes away, you start going through the Upward Turn. You feel like maybe you can face this. You start planning and reconstructing your mind and your life. You get your plan in place for treating whatever is threatening the life at stake and you push forward. And then you start to Accept what's been dealt to you. You have Hope. Usually the hope comes through connecting with others who have or are currently going through what you are. And you fight for yourself and you fight for others!! You root for them!! You pray for the ones that are still too angry to pray!!!! And somehow you come through the other side. The other side......it seems so far away when you are stuck in the first few stages. You feel like you will never get there. But when you do, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....what a feeling. It's a neat place to be. For one thing, you beat whatever was plaguing you. And you can be an enormous amount of comfort to someone beginning their journey, whether it's the same as yours or something you can relate to. I truly believe God gives us what we can handle. Doesn't mean we don't get upset with Him for thinking we can handle so much. It's a bit of a backhanded compliment. 'You're strong! Here you go!' But man, when you DO make it through to the flip side, it's pretty empowering. It's pretty amazing. You sit there and think, 'Wow, I did that! I beat that! We beat that!' So right now, Dear Sweet Friend of mine......you're mad as Hell.......that's good......means you're gonna fight like Hell, too....... You're too angry to pray. So I'm there praying for you. I love you. God loves you. And so do many others. We'll ALL keep up the prayer for you.