TV: a Tool or “The Devil”

365:32 - Television

Photo by Sarah Reid

As more of our society has become screen driven, the controversy over children watching television has increased. On one side you have companies specifically marketing television, movies, and all sorts of related products to children. There are companies targeting commercials at children in hopes that those children will then bug their parents enough to buy the products, shaping our society from a young age into a consumerist society, while some parents say they just need a break or how the look forward to family movie night. On the flip side, you have organizations saying television is bad, detracting from time which would be otherwise be spent doing other activities, adding to childhood obesity and other health problems. There are parents crying out that TV is the devil (said jokingly in reference to the mother in Adam Sandler’s movie The Waterboy) and banning all reference of television or movies from their child’s existence. Both of these sides tend to take the topic of television to extremes, when there is a middle ground. We are a middle ground family. We have direct tv . In graduate school, my husband really wanted to watch his beloved Red Wings hockey games. It seemed a minor issue to promise him those games out of grad. school. For a long time, hockey games were pretty much the only thing our television was used for, much to the astonishment of my in-laws who have a television (on) in every room, as I’m not one to sit down and surf channels to find something to watch. Later, when we upgraded to a DVR, I found that we could actually plan to record items to watch later, without it interferring with life (hence, I would actually be able to watch something without trying to remember to turn the television on). Since that time, we have found quite a few wonderful documentaries and shows to record and watch. We have seen things that we would never have otherwise seen (deep sea adventures, historical documentaries, erupting volcanoes, and more). There are also the occassional family movie nights. We are able to use this technology as yet another tool for learning rather than something that rules our lives. Just like anything else, it’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s what you make of it. For families worried that television may take over, keep a few things in mind:

  • Given the opportunity, children are quite good at self-regulation. Something which is currently forbidden now may capture their attention at first, but in every family I know who allows self-regulation, the kids do actually regulate themselves in various life areas, often much better than adults (says the woman who turns to sweets in times of stress while my kids have a heathly relationship with food).
  • Kids would rather spend time with you. If you feel that the tube is on too much, offer an alternative. Go cook together, garden, read books, make a craft, go for a walk, or play a game.
  • Turning on the screen doesn’t mean it can’t be turned off. That’s what the power button is for. Don’t be afraid to use technology as a tool for your family where there is benefit. It’s not permanent and you control how much you let it into your life and how it fits. If it doesn’t fit, that’s fine. Just remember that there can be happy mediums in life. If you choose to watch television, continue to be present with your children to help them navigate those messages presented. Child need your presence in life.

Just as with anything, a tool is what you make of it.

Disclaimer: Links to are not an endorsement for the site or for directtv.

Bodily Autonomy and Personal Hygiene

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices.

Innocent Child Protected By Arms

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

More than 30% of children in the United States will be sexually abused, few of which will be reported. In most of those cases, the perpetrator will not be a stranger. It will be someone you and your child know: a trusted babysitter or neighbor, a friend, a coach or teacher, your beloved Uncle Charlie, or another person whom you thought would never do that to your child.

Knowing the warning signs of sexual abuse is important. It allows you to quickly assess possible telling behaviors and take action to prevent possible further abuse. However, as parents, our goal is to prevent the abuse before it happens. There are many ways to do this. We can be honest with our kids about sex and bodies, answering questions as they come up in age appropriate ways. We can teach our children the proper terminology of their body parts and cultivate an atmophere in which our children feel comfortable talking with us about anything. We can talk to them about tricky people and how to get help. We can also empower them by honoring their personal bodily autonomy.

Individual should be allowed to have control over what happens to their bodies. In our family, we have made it clear to our children that it is not acceptable for anyone to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or without permission. This includes well meaning relatives who expect children to give hugs and kisses on demand (check out the great discussion at Vibrant Wanderings about this). It includes other children (who pass on abuse in a large percentage of cases). It includes doctors and even my husband and myself. We believe that if there is a valid reason for touching a child, in the event that a doctor or parent must aid in personal or medical care, that reason should be able to be explained to the child and permission given.

To that end, our children own their own bodies. We don’t force diaper changes, teeth brushing, baths (although the only problem our children have ever had with baths or showers is getting out), nail cutting, hair brushing, or anything else. This doesn’t mean that we have the dirty children on the block , walking around with uncombed hair, dirty teeth and diapers sagging with excrement. It just means that we talk to our children about why we believe it is implortant to do various aspects of personal hygiene. We give choices to honor their individuality. We are open and direct. We model personal hygiene and let them do as much as they can on their own.

Forcing a child to do something to their body against their will does not only destroy the trust they have in us. It also destroys the trust they have in their own bodily autonomy.

Learn more about the sexual abuse of children and what you can do to prevent it at Stop It Now! and Safely Ever After


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)

Reconnecting through Reading

Welcome to the March Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Discovering through BooksThis post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants have investigated what role books have played in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

42 of 365 ~ Storytime

Photo by Tanya Little

Ours is a family of bibliophiles. We drag books home from the library. We have our own family library of our favorite books. We review advanced copies of books from authors and publishers. Many of our family jokes are based on books. We read…a LOT! While you will often find one or more fo us curled up with a good book, we also read as a family. Many reasons are given for reading as a family.:

  • Being read to is the most important reading instruction your child can receive. Rather than forced reading instruction methods which often hinder the process and are forced on many children before they are ready, children who are read to are more equipped to pick up a book and read. Children from literary homes will learn to read without any formal instruction.
  • Reading aloud to a child builds vocabulary and proper grammar, improving not only their reading but also their language skills and communication.
  • Reading aloud stimulates a child’s imagination, fostering creativity and critical thinking skills simultaneously. Books provide a jumping point for pretend play and continued adventures, a key component of not only creative thinking but also of intellectual and emotional growth. Children who spend a lot of time in pretend play learn social and communication skills by co-operating with others in the game.
  • Reading as a family provides automatic shared experiences. Our young family has hundreds of jokes and catch phrases, all extracted from books.
  • Reading aloud introduces other cultures, other experiences, and various topics of discussion. We have had many great discussions based on what we have read.
  • Reading isn’t just for kids who can sit still. Many children may wish to play with small toys or work on a craft while listening to you read.

Finally, no matter what kind of day we have had, no matter my mood or what stress life holds, at the end of the day (or the middle depending on when we are reading), I know that I can snuggle up with my children, pull out our current chapter book, and reconnect with them. It’s our own version of the old adage “Don’t go to bed mad.” “Don’t go to bed without reading.” I can definitely see a difference on those days when we didn’t make time for reading right before bed the night before, regardless of how much we read during the day.

New to reading chapter books with your kids? You might want to check out Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition.

Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Parenting the Perfectionist Child

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

My children, like many highly gifted children, lean toward perfectionism. Perfectionism is often called the crucible of giftedness. Accustomed to excelling at any given task right away, having to work at something is a harder experience for these kids (and adults). Unrealistic expectations can result in feelings of failure, being overly self-critical, high anxiety levels, and individuals may be emotionally guarded.

When I was a child, common theory was to push the perfectionist child to get them past their perfectionist ideals. If a child came across something that wasn’t immediately mastered, it was thought they needed to be pushed past that point in order for them understand about hard work and perserverance. For some adults, perfectionism was payback to the child for being too good at everything. I once had an adult say to me with satisfaction when I wasn’t perfect at something on my first time, “Now you know how the rest of us feel.” Comments of “You are smart. You can do it,” were stated in attempts of reassurance, often with the unspoken, and often unintended, flip side of “If you can’t do it, you aren’t smart.”

Luckily for my children, I understand all to well the feelings of perfectionism. I’ve been there, and if I am honest, I’m still there. I am extremely hard on myself in most aspects of life. In a stage of my life when so much time is spent on parenting, I constantly berate and challenge myself to be a better parent, mentally flogging myself for any mistakes.

Silverman explains six reasons why gifted children are perfectionists:

  • Perfectionism is abstract and requires an abstract mind to contemplate that which does not currently exist.
  • Perfectionism is a function of asynchrony between the child’s age and mind. A child with advanced mental abilities expects to be able to act on those abilities but often finds himself limited by physical capabilities.
  • Many gifted children align their expectations with those of their older peers rather than their age cohorts.
  • Gifted children hold enough forethought to ensure success in most endeavors the first time. They will consider all aspects prior to acting, eliminating many objects which would cause failure. As they grow, gifted children have had limited experience with failure. The gifted population also exhibits a much larger percentage of introverts, who tend to be more cautious, than the population as a whole.
  • Gifted individuals seek challenges. When there are none, we create them, often making tasks much more difficult than needed.
  • Perfectionism, a naturally occurring positive phenomenon which drives us to change, is distorted when treated negatively.

Perfectionism itself need not be negative. It can be the catalyst for change, manifesting in self-realization and humanitarian ideals. The pursuit of excellence is driven by perfectionism, striving to reach goals and better one’s self. To eschew perfectionism completely is to disregard the pursuit of excellence. The defining factor of how perfectionism will be regarded and affect an individual is how it is addressed.

What many people, parents included, fail to understand is that perfectionist children are already under an immense amount of pressure from themselves. Recent studies over the past decade have focused more on this aspect, but the information has yet to be adopted by many professionals, let alone parents and other adults. As parents of perfectionist children, there are many ways we can help them develop positive aspects of their personalities:

  • Admit our own mistakes and show how we cope and rectify or live with them. Children often are not privy to nor recognize the mistakes made by their parents, enforcing the idea of their own perfection in a negative light.
  • Provide a calm and uncluttered environment, not just physically but mentally and emotionally, as well. When children have pressure in one aspect of their lives, other pressures may put them over the edge.
  • Use non-violent communication skills to help children. Often misunderstood by others, gifted children may feel more pressure to do things without adequate support, internalizing feelings of loneliness and lack of preparation.
  • Comment on a child’s strengths or work without evaluating. Perfectionists put enough pressure on themselves without external pressure from a parents well-intended praise.

As my children grow older and encounter more difficult tasks, I do what I can for them by way of offering support, encouraging growth, acting as a sounding board for ideas, and showing unconditional love and acceptance. I then step back and allow my children the space they need to work out their problems without any pressure from me; I know they have enough internal pressure.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)

Honesty (with your children) is the Best Policy

Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and


Photo by Jintae Kim

The phrase “honesty is the best policy” has been uttered by many for hundreds of years. When it comes to parents and children though, the policy is traditionally thrown out the window.

 From the tooth fairy to toys that disappear in the night, parents are setting up a system of distrust. When parents lie, not only are they modelling that lieing is in fact, acceptable, they are proving to their kids that they can’t be trusted. In the same vein, parents encourage their children to lie to them with punitive strategies. It’s a circular situation, diminshing trust between all parties and preventing healthy attachments that last a lifetime.
I’ve been a parent for over nine years now. I have four children. I have yet to lie to them. I won’t lie to you and say that there haven’t been times when a little white lie felt like it would be easier. There have definitely been those times. Relationships aren’t always easy though. Neither is parenting. They both take time and investment and dare I say even, work.
I want my relationships with my children to be built on a foundation of trust and authenticity. I want our relationships to grow as just my children grow. I don’t want to wake up one day to find a teenager I don’t know because s/he doesn’t trust me enough to tell me what is going on in his/her life or is afraid to talk to me about something. Honesty is the best policy, especially with our children.


Visit Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Different Rules for Different Families

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.


Photo by kissyface (Flickr)

Yes. I’m one of those moms who let’s my kids climb up the slides. Frankly, if there is no one trying to come down the slide, I don’t see any reason to put a limitation on it. I am always surprised by the amount of comments I hear from caregivers at the park about how slides are only to go down and if children don’t use them properly, they will be leaving. It could be said that I am setting a bad precedent by allowing my children to go up slides that are not in use by anyone.

I’ve received some looks before. In fact, one woman was so appalled by this that she grabbed my then 1 1/2 year old son off of a toddler slide and set him on the ground, assumably because 5 minutes earlier she had told her child that he could not climb up the slide and wasn’t happy that I told my kids they were fine as long as the slide was not in use. She said nothing to him or me. I was shocked. In my world, you don’t go around grabbing other people because you disagree with what they are doing when it has nothing to do with you. Needless to say, I was not happy about that situation and scooped my child up. We left shortly thereafter.

The fact is that different families have different rules. We can’t pretend to know what another family’s rules may be and other families shouldn’t expect us to follow their rules in public. As long as another family’s rules do not directly impact my family, they aren’t any of my business.

There have been times when we were specifically playing with another family who was not allowed to do something that my children were. I merely pointed out to my kids that their friend looked like she really wanted to what they were doing but that I didn’t think her family allowed it. They decided it would be really hard for her and made the decision to wait until we weren’t with that family to do the activity.

Learning that different people do things differently is a part of life. Learning to be true to your beliefs is a part of strength, independence, and integrity. Learning empathy when warranted is a part of compassion. Discussing that there are different rules for different families not only gives children a glimpse into how other people live but gives us an opportunity to discuss why we make our own decisions.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others’ parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t — We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think “Gosh, I wish I said…” This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought “Gosh, I wish I said…”
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don’t Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she’d want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying “I’m Right and You’re Wrong” Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won’t care — Cassie of There’s a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don’t know what to do when you’re confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky – Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert’s Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


Too Old to Have a Baby?

Women having babies in their thirties and forties is nothing new. For generations, and still in some areas of the world, it was common place for women to have children until menopause. My paternal grandparents both came from very large families. I myself, born well after my older siblings, had older parents. What has changed is what the census bureau refers to as a delayer bloom. The average age for women to begin having children is 29, and the number of women waiting until their thirties is climbing.

Photo by surlygirl (Flickr)

While optimal fertility occurs in a woman’s early twenties and women interested in becoming an egg donor must be between the ages of 21 and 30, new educational and employment opportunities available to women are resulting in later births as a whole.

Women over the age of 35 who become pregnant can look forward to the medical community referring to their pregnancy as a geriatric pregnancy. Statistically speaking, older mothers are more likely to be educated about pregnancy and birth choices than their younger counterparts and have more confidence to stand up for themselves. It’s no wonder the traditional medical community, which forces unneccessary interventions and scoffs at women who come in with birth plans or refuse procedures, has labelled these women high risk.

There isn’t any right age to start or stop a family. Learning about pregnancy, birth, and parenting is beneficial at any age. Loving your child and treating him or her with respect is what matters.