Sleepovers, A Big Hot Mess?

A mom asked me what my thoughts were on sleepovers because in her view they are sneak-outs, sneak-ins, drink ups, and just a big hot mess to avoid.  Her view is increasingly shared by other parents that interpret the world as changed since our childhoods. Society is not only more dangerous but increasingly more litigious adding another layer of risk.  Once upon a time parents worked things out, or gave children room to work things out on their own.  Now lawyers and law enforcement are a starting point for resolution. It goes without saying that as a parent you will be held responsible for your children’s and their friends’ actions while under your roof.  In the mom’s view, there is an age when sleepovers are no longer appropriate which is between 13-15.  

 

While younger children may not be sneaking out, drinking alcohol, or using drugs there are dangers to be aware of.  As a father of six daughters and two boys, I am cautious of the people I entrust them to, as you should be with your children.  This is especially true with young children.  Sexual abuse affects 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys.  It is most prevalent between the ages of 7-15, and most commonly perpetrated by people you know and trust. These are facts and I see them first hand in my role as a physician with the child protective team.  Part of protection from abuse is bringing it into the light, talking about it at an early age, using correct terms for body parts, and teaching them that their body is their own.

 

So, my stance on sleepovers is that an actively involved parent will know the right choice to make.  Consistently making good decisions requires being an involved parent. That means participating in school, sports, and social activities. It means getting to know your child’s friends, friends of friends, and other parents. The world is not the same as it was when we were young, nor was it then the same as when our parents were young.  Kids should not be sheltered and should be given space to make moral decisions which will help them to grow into caring and moral individuals

 

For me, that means judging a situation case by case, but my default is to say yes when the hosts are trusted and my child is doing all the right things otherwise.

10 Steps to Better Parents

 

10) Your child’s needs are changing as they grow.  Embrace your inner “cup” to fill them with what they need.  The value and beauty of a cup rests n its emptiness and ability to receive whatever it is given.  You are not exactly the same every day. In the same way, clear your mind of what you think you know of your child, and make an effort to get to know your child on a daily basis as they grow.

 

09) Begin with the ultimate end in mind.  Ask yourself what the relationship with your child looks like 50 years from now.  In every action you take decide if this action, is moving you closer to that ultimate destination you want with your child.

 

08) Help & hug.  When young children are acting out they really need help.  Forego the threats and consequences.  Identify the need and help them to solve their need. Recall the teachers and mentors you lovingly recall are the ones who spent the time learning what you needed.

 

07) Make yourself happy-not them.  True entitlements are few in life, but happiness is surely one of them.  Your child is like gold and you the sun.  When you shine they glitter.  Also, we teach our children to make themselves happy in the process.

 

06) Timmy Time.  Make a special time for your child and do whatever reasonable thing they want during that time.  Even if it is watching their favorite show with them.  As Jesus did with John the Fisherman, go to them in their own activities.

 

05) Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. This is an exercise of integrity and humility.  We acknowledge that the universe will unfold in its own way and at its own time. Therefore we are careful with our word also understanding and mindful of what we ask of others. It’s about trust and integrity.  

 

04) Respond more and react less.  Observe, listen, seek to understand, problem solve and respond instead of roaring and raging. You are the role model. Your children will rage when they do not get their way based on your example and leadership – or visa versa– they will sit with love and understanding as others are struggling.

 

03) Children learn and model based on the examples we set… especially when you think they aren’t looking.

 

02) Chores. Get them started early.  They will learn the value and satisfaction of work.  They will learn the need to contribute to the whole and nurtures them with a sense of responsibility.

 

01) Listen to your gut and trust your intuition.

Are you a supermom?

Are you a supermom?

Tis the season in the era of superheroes.  What do we expect from the greatest superhero of them all during the holidays?  Supermoms are cooking up extravagant architectural designs for the grandest gingerbread homes on the block.  Supermoms are waiting in line at 3:00 am to get the perfect present to make this the most memorable holiday until next year.  Supermoms are baking mouthwatering healthy treats that are as delicious to the eyes as they are to the tummy.  Supermoms are doing it all and looking great doing it.  More than any other time of year this when supermoms shine like shooting stars streaking across the night sky.

 

The uncomfortable truth about being a supermom is that it is often a recipe for stress, resentment, anger, and sadness leading to physical illness. “Super syndrome” and “Supermom syndrome” are two terms gaining traction in psychology and life coaching circles.  Supers try to control every detail of life and often sacrifice their time, energy and health for the love of others.  Supers aim for perfection in service to their children, their spouses, their jobs, and their friends.  

 

What could possibly be wrong with possessing a strong drive to serve?  Supers aim for an idea that does not exist but in abstract, perfection.  It is an unattainable summit and in the process their own needs are not met.

 

Since the goal is beyond reach and essential human needs are not met, supers develop excess self-criticism, self-disbelief, depression, and pessimism.  As a result they often lose sleep, have a constant drip of cortisol in their blood stream, may suffer eating disorders, have poor self image, and lose motivation.  Sure to follow from living an imbalanced life would be adrenal fatigue, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular damage, and mood disorder.

 

There is hope for supermoms and other superheroes.  Dr. Molly Barrow, a clinical psychotherapist, suggests drawing a pie chart each day and blocking off 8 hours for sleep.  She recommends putting your priorities into the pie chart and celebrating your successes each day.  “Well I was able to make Christmas decorations with my child today, but I wasn’t able to paint his room.”  Treat it as a victory.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  We all ought to try to be a little more human and a little less superhuman.  Try learning to let go, embracing the imperfect, and celebrating the incomplete this holiday season.

A child’s odyssey of hardship defiance and hope

Does hardship in childhood keep your child from being successful?

Divorce, chronic illness, trauma, abuse, addiction and neglect are common settings for childhood. 75% of children experience at least one of these ongoing stressors.

So we worry as parents, “Is a child’s full potential limited by these difficult circumstances? Or worse, do these childhood events result in an adult life of despair and dysfunction?”

The good news is NO!

Social scientists studied 400 of the most successful people in the 20th century and this is what they found:

1. Less than 15% were raised in supportive, untroubled homes, and

2. 75% grew up in a family burdened by poverty, abuse, absent parents, alcoholism, or serious illness.

Adverse childhood events teach resilience.

Children learn a way of life to courageously face repetitive and ongoing battles with determination. They are trained to handle adversity and succeed by surviving a decades-long endeavor. Born of the forges of an adverse childhood is a soul ready to flourish.

They flourish by seeking people who care, fighting for a better life for themselves, setting goals, and seizing opportunities.

They possess an inner defiance. Some show it externally by being in a constant battle against others. Others surrender externally while remaining internally defiant. The common denominator is inner defiance and either manifestation is essential.

Basically, inner defiance creates a decades-long resilience that results in a scale of success uncommon among us.

Stress can be a teacher and a coach.  Through the exercise of responding to stress, reshaping an attitude towards stress, and overcoming stress resilience is born. It is born of habit. You become stronger with practice.

People are not more successful because of a happy, stress-free childhood. They are more content and accomplished because of internal fortitude and believing in themselves.

Backseat Mishaps

 

Have you ever seen the sharp line between fresh and salt water when a river and the ocean meet? You can see the clear blue of the sea and the muddy brown of the river pressed up against each other, both inherently refusing to commingle with the other. Each has their differing chemistries and clear differences. The same is true for the front seat of a car and the backseat when you have a toddler.

The front seat is understandable and logical; the rules are certain. You feel peace and clarity sitting in the front. The toddler’s backseat is quite different with its illogical and impulsive murky rules of decorum. You can poop in your pants, vomit, smash food into the seat fabric, scribble on everything, feed your rear-facing 2-month-old sibling M&Ms, punch your sister several times and act innocent when mom turns around at the crying, and make deals with each other with the same ethics as a Chicago gangster. Anything goes.

But sometimes the backseat is dangerous. In the past month, two children in my practice found drugs in their mother’s purse and consumed them. A 4-year old injected his mother’s EpiPen into his thigh and had to go to the hospital for monitoring for several hours. A 15-year old found her mother’s homemade brownies, ate some and learned they weren’t just brownies. And earlier this year a 5-year old opened the door of a moving car and fell out. Fortunately, all three (and the parents) are fine and wiser for the time.

Here is some genuine Wise Guy advice to help forego the firsthand experiential OMG abyss.

1) Fundamentals. Rear-facing car seats until age 2 or outgrow seat, forward-facing car seat from age 2 to 5, booster seat from age 5 up until seat belts fit properly, and seat belts when lap belts lay across the upper thighs (not stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Parents and caregivers lead by example.

2) Simple living. All manner of things make their way into our purses and man bags over time. The bigger the bag the more we stuff into them. It’s time for an honest and fearless bag inventory.

3) Frisking. Your inquisitive little one has the swift hands of a magician. Give your kids a maximum-security prison level pat down before putting them in the car. My mom used to sneak in a breath check and pat down with her hugs before my friends and I would leave the house on weekends during high school.

4) Shakedowns. A child can choke on something inside a vehicle and children put everything in their mouth. Check the nooks and crannies of your backseat for

potentially dangerous objects, old goldfish crackers, and old french-fries that can be repurposed as a shank.

5) Diversions. Car safety also means being able to drive free of distractions from the back seat. You can repurpose a shoe organizer stocked with activities and safe toys to put distractions at your child’s fingertips.

6) Lockdowns. There is a stage when children are too young to open a door then one day out of the blue they do it. Engage the child locks early, like at conception, because the first few days months years are a blur.

7) Heat stroke. A child can begin to suffer life-threatening symptoms of heatstroke within minutes. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult.

8) Car Theft. Vehicles are stolen with children alone inside quite frequently, even in safe neighborhoods. Most of the time the thief doesn’t realize there is a child in the back seat until they are already gone in the vehicle.

9) Power Windows. Power windows have killed or injured thousands of children. It takes 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant while power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds of force.

10) Into Gear. Every year hundreds of children are hospitalized or even killed after accidentally setting a car into motion. It can be done without the car on and without a foot on the break.

 

Sources:

http://www.kidsandcars.org/files/2013/07/Other-Dangers-fact-sheet.pdf http://lifehacker.com/9-tricks-to-protect-your-car-from-your-kids-while-kee-1685400638 https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html