Why Is Natural Parenting Essential for Dads

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Why Is Natural Parenting Essential for Dads

Have you ever noticed that conversations about parenting too often focus solely on mothers? Of course, in part it makes sense: the mother is the person who carried the baby for nine months, and the person who breastfeeds. However, other than that, there is no particular reason why a mother’s role should be so jarringly greater in a child’s life, compared to the father’s. Just as they need a mother figure, kids need a healthy father figure for ideal development. There is no reason whatsoever why a father wouldn’t take part in attachment parenting together with his partner, and there are many numerous benefits both for him and his baby.

What exactly is attachment parenting?

Why Is Natural Parenting Essential for Dads

The term natural parenting or attachment parenting might sound like some sort of a new fad, but in fact, it’s as old as time. In simple terms, it’s the practice of raising children in a way that promotes closeness and strengthens the parent – child bond. The most common principles of natural parenting include co-sleeping in a safe and controlled way (precautions are necessary in order to minimize chances of SIDS), breastfeeding on demand, babywearing and respectful disciplining. Natural parenting is based on recognizing and striving to meet the needs of every member of the family. Of course, that might sound exhausting if it falls entirely on the mother, which is why the role of the father is to create a support network and share the responsibility and duties in as equal a way as possible.

How can dads get involved?

Why Is Natural Parenting Essential for Dads

Of all the aspects of attachment parenting, only breastfeeding is exclusively the duty of the mother. However, if the baby is bottle fed for any reason (whether with formula or pumped breast milk), dads can share those duties too. Some dads choose to co-sleep with their kids – and, if you take certain precautions, the practice is perfectly safe. What is more, kids who co-sleep with their parents tend to wake up less and establish better sleeping habits. The aspect that dads seem most comfortable with – in fact, they relish it – is babywearing. It gives them the chance to spend time in close proximity to their child. Physical touch is a powerful tool for forging a loving bond. Babies, from the earliest days, love exploring the world around them, but they also thrive best when they feel safe and loved. The best way to provide that safety is physical contact. Every dad can explore the different possibilities of babywearing and choose the one that works for them. Some opt for a comfortable baby carrier, others prefer baby wraps.

What are the benefits?

Why Is Natural Parenting Essential for Dads

The benefits of attachment parenting are numerous and immediate. The most important is, of course, the establishment of the father as a warm and close caregiver, instead of a distant breadwinner figure. The second, extremely practical reason is that all moms, however strong they are, need a break sometimes. Too often, mothers work too hard to keep their families happy, without actually providing themselves with even the most basic nourishment. They sleep too little, eat on their feet, sometimes they don’t even have the time to shower or wash their hair. Their social life too often just flies out the window. When dads also take up babywearing, feeding or co-sleeping, moms can finally get some much-needed time for themselves. Not only does attachment parenting feed the love between father and child, it also positions the mother and father as equals, and strengthens their relationship too. The whole family will be able to flourish through mutual support, and the father, unlike in so many traditional scenarios, is there to witness every single moment.

At the end of the day, everyone benefits from a strong bond between the father and child. Many dads experience a feeling of being on the outside, looking in, especially with the first baby in the family. The bond that instantly forms between mother and child is so strong that it can leave dads feeling excluded and even jealous. On the other hands, moms are too often exhausted and feeling at the end of their tether. Natural parenting gives dads the tools to get involved and help create a safe, loving environment where their kids can thrive.

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Guest Post: Beyond the Tiger Mom

Guest Post: Beyond the Tiger Mom

Happy Friday, everyone!  Today’s guest post is about a wonderful book, Beyond the Tiger Mom, by author Maya Thiagarajan.  I’m very pleased to provide a brief overview of the book, an excerpt from the book, and an interview with Maya about her top three parenting hacks.  This is a great read so I hope everyone enjoys!


Guest Post: Beyond the Tiger Mom

In Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age, Maya Thiagarajan looks at the differences between Western and Asian approaches to parenting and education.

How do Asian parents prime their children for success from a young age? Why do Asian kids do so well in math and science? What is the difference between an Asian upbringing and a Western one? Why do some Asian mothers see themselves as “tiger moms” while others shun the label? How do Asian parents deal with their children’s failures? Is it sometimes good for children to fail? These are just a few of the compelling questions posed and answered in this fascinating new parenting book.

In Beyond the Tiger Mom, Thiagarajan examines the stereotypes and goes beneath the surface to explore what really happens in Asian households. How do Asian parents think about childhood, family and education—and what can Western parents learn from them?

Through interviews with hundreds of Asian parents and children, Thiagarajan offers a detailed look at their values, hopes, fears and parenting styles. Woven into this narrative are her own reflections on teaching and parenting in Asia and the West. Thiagarajan synthesizes an extensive body of research to provide accessible and practical guidelines for parents. Each chapter ends with a “How To” section of specific tips for Asian and Western parents to aid their child’s educational development both inside and outside the classroom.

In Beyond the Tiger Mom, you will learn how to:

– Help your child achieve maximum academic potential

– Train your child to expand his or her attention span

– Find the right balance between work and play

– Help your child see failure as a learning experience

– Learn how to raise tech-healthy kids

Praise

“In this exquisite book, Maya Thiagarajan distills her observations about parenting as a global citizen who has lived, studied and taught in India, the United States and Singapore. Drawing on a refreshing mix of comparative observations, Maya writes a compelling book to explain to parents how they can best support the development of their children, drawing on some of the best practices from Eastern and Western cultural traditions.

An accomplished teacher and skilled writer, a reflective parent, and above all a global citizen, Maya has produced a unique book that every parent trying to make sense of how best to help our children grow into global citizens should read.”Fernando M. Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of Practice in International Education, Harvard University

“Beyond the Tiger Mom is a brilliant book. Hard-hitting and brutally honest but also balanced, insightful, and funny. It avoids clichés and draws on years of research and personal multicultural teaching experience.”Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package: What Really Determines Success

“Maya Thiagarajan brings a unique East-and-West perspective, and a refreshing balanced discussion, to hot-button issues in child rearing. Her interviews and ethnographic analyses deliver a wealth of insights into Asian vs. Western parenting decisions on topics ranging from math drills to self-esteem.”Katharine Beals, Author of Raising a Left Brained Child in a Right Brained World

Excerpt from Beyond the Tiger Mom

INTRODUCTION

Homecoming

In early 2010, my husband, children, and I packed up all our stuff, waved goodbye to our cramped apartment in Manhattan, and flew across the world to Singapore. This wasn’t my first cross-continental move: I was born and raised in India, but as a teenager, I moved to the US for college, and then stayed on there for graduate school and work. After fifteen years in the US, I found myself hungering for “home.” I was yearning for tropical sun and heat, for the sounds of Tamil and Hindi, for idli-dosa breakfasts, and for the color and chaos of India.

Since home—India—wasn’t really an option for my husband in terms of his career, we settled on Singapore, a tropical island and a global city that’s just a short flight from India. Sight unseen, my husband and I, along with our two young children, arrived in Singapore right before Chinese New Year. Amidst deafening drumbeats and colorful red and yellow lion dances, we ushered in the Year of the Tiger and began a new phase in our lives.

As an Indian in Singapore, I felt at home. It was as comfortable as a soft couch, and like the smell of jasmine flowers and garam masala, everything on the island felt familiar. Besides having the tropical heat and color in common, Singaporean and Indian cultures, too, are very much alike. Family and filial piety are of supreme importance; kids are expected to obey and respect their elders; every older person is an “auntie” or an “uncle”; and exams dominate the lives of young children and their families.

Six months after I arrived in Singapore, I began teaching high-school English at an elite international school on the island. My students came from a wide range of backgrounds: a third of them were East Asian, another third were South Asian (mostly Indian), and the rest were Western (European, Australian, and American). At my first set of student-teacher conferences, I was taken aback when an Indian mother turned to me and said, “Please be stricter with my son. He needs a firm hand, and he needs to take his studies much more seriously.” I had thought her son was doing just fine, but she clearly thought he could do much better. Later, at another parent conference that same evening, a Chinese mother whose English was not very good bowed low and said politely, “You must be thirsty from talking to so many parents.” I nodded, and she immediately ordered her ninth-grade son, who was attending the conference so that he could translate if necessary, to run and get me some water. She proceeded to thank me profusely for teaching her son. I was struck by how different these conversations were from the parent conferences that I had experienced in the US. As I began to spend more time interacting with East Asian and South Asian students and parents, and increasingly with local Singaporean families, I found myself reflecting on the way that these families viewed childhood, parenting, education, and the very purpose of life itself. I became increasingly interested in the Asian reverence for education, the nature of parent-child relationships, the number of hours that children spent on academic work, and the importance given to both mathematics and memorization. What values did these Asian families—both Asian expats and local Singaporeans—hold; where did they originate; and how did they shape and dictate the decisions that parents and students made? Is there anything that Western parents struggling to discipline or motivate their children can learn from Eastern parenting and education? And if so, what is it? These are some of the questions that this book seeks to address.

As a parent, I began to question my own paradigms of parenting and child development. When we moved to Singapore, my son was nearly five and my daughter was eighteen months old. We’ve been living in this little island nation for five years now; my son is almost ten, and my daughter is six. Both my kids think of Singapore as home and feel a deep attachment to the island. When we first arrived, I enrolled my son in the private international school where I teach, and placed my daughter in a local bilingual (Chinese-English) preschool. Once my daughter turned four, she, too, joined the international school where I teach. Though the curriculum and faculty at this school are distinctly Western, the student body is largely Asian, creating a multiplicity of cultural influences (as well as some cultural confusion) in my children’s lives. Growing up in Singapore, attending an international school that offers them both Western and Eastern influences, and engaging with East Asian and South Asian friends and family on a daily basis, my children are exposed to both the East and the West. As a parent, I have found myself carefully considering the strengths and weaknesses of East and West, Asia and America, and I find myself often caught in the middle, wondering what script to adopt, what decision to make, and what kind of a parent I want to be. Throughout this book, I trace my own journey as a parent and an educator, raising questions and reflecting upon the ways in which the cultures I have inhabited have shaped my parenting attitudes and decisions. This book’s thesis is that Western and Eastern parenting philosophies have vastly different strengths and weaknesses; therefore, parents on either side of the world can learn from each other—and in order to truly raise successful children in a global world, perhaps they need to learn from each other and blend the best of both worlds together. This book offers research-backed suggestions on how to combine the best aspects of Asian and American parenting and education philosophies. I hope you will find my ideas practical, useful, and inspiring, no matter where you are in the world.

Tell us your top three parenting hacks.

I’m not sure if the points below count as “hacks,” but hopefully they’ll be useful to parents who want to foster a learning culture in their homes. I talk about these points (and much more) in detail in my book, “Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.”

#1:  Think like a teacher and seize teaching moments whenever you can:

As a teacher, I’m very aware of all the ways in which learning can happen, and I think that it’s important to recognize and capitalize on “teaching moments.”

When a child fails at something, for example they don’t get chosen for a team or a play, a parent’s tendency is to react emotionally. In contrast, most teachers will see these moments as “teaching moments.” So, my advice to parents is to think like a teacher! Instead of reacting emotionally, step back and help your child think through what they could do better next time. Help your child develop resilience by helping them think about mistakes and failures in a constructive way. A lot parents want to protect their children from failure, but as an educator, I think that some low-stakes failure in school can actually be healthy as it helps kids learn.

Similarly, when your child behaves badly or does something wrong, instead of getting angry, stay calm and think about the learning that can occur – we learn most from our mistakes and failures, but for that learning to occur, we need to think critically and constructively about what happened and what can be done differently next time.

#2: Use books for…everything!

When you read with your kids, think about all that you can do with the book. You can use books to teach empathy and kindness, you can use books to discuss big issues like bullying or racism, you can use books to help kids learn about the wider world.

Talk to kids about what they’re reading and engage in conversations about books. It will bring you closer to your children and help you teach them values. It will also signal to them that you value reading. One great “mummy hack” I use are informal book conversations at meals. We’ll go around the table, and each of us will talk about a book we read over the week and what we thought about it. Another thing I like to do is carve out an hour on Sunday afternoons for “family reading time.” We all grab our books and read together in the living room.

#3: There’s math all around us … use it to build a math culture.

One thing that really surprised me when I first arrived in Singapore was the tremendous attention that parents gave to math. One mother told me that she used the elevator in her apartment building to engage her child in math conversations. She mentioned that riding on an elevator is like “riding on a number line,” so it’s a great way to get kids to think about numbers, addition, and subtraction. Another mother talked about getting her kids to identify and recognize shapes in the playground.  There’s so much math around us – find it and use it to fuel an early awareness and love of math in your kids.

About the Author

Guest Post: Beyond the Tiger Mom

A global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).

Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.

In addition to teaching and writing, Maya also conducts workshops for parents and teachers on a range of education related topics

Readers can connect with Maya on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.mayathiagarajan.info/

Teaching Your Children About Budgeting Sets Them Up for Financial Success

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There are many lessons that parents give their children to help them grow into responsible adults. We teach them to be responsible when it comes to sex and to avoid drugs. They learn the importance of hard work through chores. But, a surprisingly large number of parents never teach their children financial basics.

Raising money-smart children should begin early and continue throughout a child’s life at home. Initial lessons need to be further developed and reinforced as children mature. These teachings will help your kids avoid falling into financial traps and will positively impact their stability as adults.

For your children to learn foreign languages and math and literacy, you have to provide them with books and guide them. To teach them to budget, you have to provide them with money and guide them. Typically, this takes the form of an allowance.

Allowance

An allowance benefits children in a few ways. Firstly, allowances teach children that money is earned through work. Secondly, they are a good way to both teach and enforce good budgeting and spending habits. The amount that you give your children will depend upon your income and your comfort level. Some people advocate giving a child the child their age in dollars each week. A ten-year-old gets ten dollars, but a seven-year-old only gets seven. But, the amounts can be less or more.

Budgeting Methods

At this point, you can begin teaching the old save, share, spend budgeting method. This may also include an invest step if that is something you understand quite well. The typical break down is:

  • Save ten percent
  • Invest ten percent
  • Share ten percent
  • Spend the rest as necessary

If you are not teaching your child to invest, the rest would be 80 percent. By imparting these lessons, you teach your children not to live paycheck to paycheck by spending 100 percent of their money.

Some parents simply take the funds for sharing and saving directly out of a child’s allowance and explain the function of that money. While others choose to designate containers for dividing up the funds. One for savings, one for spending, and one for giving. Some go even further and subdivide the money even further. For these parents, there is a jar for sharing; ten percent automatically goes in there for charity. Then, the other 90 percent is divided into instant gratification, medium-term savings, and long-term savings. This lets children make decisions about the importance of purchases and forces them to plan to spend.

Delaying Gratification

When you use buckets that designate instant gratification as well as savings, you teach children they can delay their gratification and save for a goal. This is critical when they later apply for loans or credit cards. Learning about medium-term and long-term savings also helps them to understand that spending isn’t all centered on a point in the near future. When children put savings away for a month or two, they aren’t truly saving. They are simply prolonging spending.

Many adults fail to learn that people need a long-term savings that is a financial cushion in carse of emergency. The sooner in life your children learn that, the better.

Developing Budgeting

When kids get older, you can tach them to track their spending to determine how much they spend on non-essentials. Most parents cover necessities, like food and shelter, and children use their allowance money for extras. When children know that they are the ones buying extras, they tend to spend differently. Seeing their expenditures is a great way to help them control the amount they are spending. This helps them avoid living beyond their means later in life.

Bio: Arthur Henderson is a writer and child development expert who has two wonderful sons. He has been divorced twice and knows how vital it is that children to know the benefits of budgeting. He has also worked with numerous groups in treating meth addiction and other drug related problems.

4 Signs You Are Doing This Parenting Thing Totally Wrong

4 Signs You Are Doing This Parenting Thing Totally Wrong

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Are you doing this parenting thing totally the wrong way?  You could be, and not even know it.  No parent claims to know it all when it comes to raising kids, but there are things that we do as parents that are probably not the best ways to handle things that come up every  day.

When I first became a dad over 10 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing.  The closest I had ever come to being a parent was babysitting my little cousins and my wife’s little sister. Parenting is hard. No one ever said it would be easy, did they? It’s the one job you really can’t train for ahead of time.  You can take all of the parenting and birth classes in the world, but when the big day finally gets here, it’s so different.

I don’t claim to be the perfect dad.  I’m not, and I don’t expect that I’ll ever be perfect. But, there are some things that I think parents do totally wrong that have a huge impact on the growth and development of their kids. I’m guilty of just about all of these, so please don’t think that I wrote this post in judgement of others.

Here are 4 signs I came up with that I think parents do have control over that can greatly impact their kids’ lives. Just because we’ve done one or maybe all of these doesn’t mean that we are bad parents, but we do have the choice to make changes for the betterment of our families.

Can you identify with any of these signs?

  • Sign #1: Bedtime is always a battle
  • Sign #2: Your kid’s meltdown causes you to cave
  • Sign #3: You say “no” to everything
  • Sign #4: Your kids know no boundaries

Sign #1:  Bedtime is always a battle

Ahh, the never-ending bedtime routine.  It always creeps up on us every night, and then we are left to fight the good fight.  My first son really tested us at bed time. He never really had an established bedtime routine. It was always a struggle from the time he was born and to this day he sometimes has challenges falling to sleep at night.

New parents often wonder, “Will I ever get to sleep again?”  The answer is yes! I know it seems like an eternal battle with little ones, but we have to remember they have never been trained to sleep a full night. They are brand new to this world and are dependent on their parents to teach them how to become an independent sleeper. Notice I did NOT say dependent sleeper!

With 4 kids, it’s very hard sometimes to get them all in bed at the same time and to get them to sleep at the same time. Please realize that every night will be different. Our kids’ moods will be different and things going on in their lives impact how comfortable they are in falling asleep quickly. Don’t stress night time. I did for so long. My oldest always got out of his bed almost immediately and it was a repetitive process of carrying him back to his bed. It’s life. It’s parenting. It’s fixable!

You always end up in your kids’ room multiple times at bedtime

One mistake we made as new parents was to keep going into his room after we told him goodnight and turned out the light. The reason that this is a mistake is because it interferes with the child’s ability to learn that lights out means sleep and quiet. If by screaming and crying they find out that mommy and daddy will come back in and pick them up, then the behavior you are trying to teach will backfire.

One way you can train your child to stay in bed and go to sleep is by allowing him or her to be a part of the bedtime process. Let your kids participate in picking out a nighttime story to read. Once the story is over, they know they are to close their eyes and go to sleep.

We know that no matter what we do, our kids will still try to test the process. When you say good night, turn off the lights, and close the door, you are setting the stage for your child to then be independent and fall asleep on their own. When they challenge that process and get out of bed, repeat the same steps. Return your child to his or her bed, tuck them in, say good night, turn out the lights, and close the door again. You may do this for hours. Don’t give in.

No matter what their age, kids need some time away from mommy and daddy.  Bedtime is the perfect time to instill independence and self-soothing. If we are not giving our kids the time and space to self-sooth, they will have the constant need to always be attached at the hip to mommy and daddy.  I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing.  We all enjoy time with our kids.  But, in establishing a positive bedtime routine, we are setting the boundary that bedtime is sleep time, and that mommy and daddy are not in the room with baby.  Going back into the room with baby repeatedly at bedtime restarts the self-soothing process.  This is the opposite of what we are trying to establish.

You put baby to bed with a bottle

Many parents I know, including myself, are guilty of having put their baby in bed with a bottle to keep him or her from crying.  Bottles should never go in the bed with the baby because it teaches them to become dependent on the bottle in order to go to sleep. It is important to always feed the baby outside of the crib.  Dentists have also claimed that babies who fall asleep with a bottle in their mouths increases the risk of cavities.

You keep talking to baby

Bedtime is quiet time. By talking to your baby during bedtime, it teaches that it is play time instead.  It’s so easy to be tempted to talk to your baby while it is bed time, but resisting and continuing to promote a quiet environment is the best course to take. Maintaining a quiet environment is important in teaching your baby that it’s time to go to sleep.

You put baby in bed with you

Regardless of what some parents say about co-sleeping, it is not beneficial to the parents or the baby. We want to instill independence in falling asleep as early as possible.  The longer we hang on to crutches to help everyone fall asleep at night, the longer it takes for them to be corrected. A child that never gets the opportunity to sleep in his or her own room is a child that will probably have issues being independent in other areas of life.

There are times when putting your child in bed with you is appropriate, but those times should be few and far between. There are also stories of parents rolling over on the child.

Putting your baby in bed with you should always be the very last resort. We have to remember that baby is new at learning how to fall asleep so it’s important to let those skills develop without intervening.

Some parents feel that the only way to stop a baby from crying is co-sleeping, and in some cases that has worked, but the long-lasting impacts are actually detrimental to baby. It is understandable that many parents do not like the cry-it-out method, but I am here to testify that it works. It is very hard in the beginning, but it eventually helps baby gain independence and learn how to fall asleep alone.

The marital bed is just that – sleeping space for you and your spouse. A child that is trained to sleep in the same bed as the parents does not understand the need for the separation. Mom and dad need that alone time to continue to make their marriage work. It can’t happen if a child is in the same bed.

Sign #2: You give in to your child’s meltdown

Let’s face it. Every kid ever born is or has had a meltdown at various times. It’s just a part of their development. You tell them they can’t have a cookie – a meltdown occurs. You tell them to go to bed – a meltdown occurs. We need to recognize when these meltdowns occur and to find a trigger that will help calm the storm.

How many times have you been out in public when your child has a meltdown?  It’s inevitable. You feel like the whole word is watching what you do and that they think that you must not be able to parent. I stopped feeling that way a long time ago. How I react to how my kids are behaving in public shows others how well I parent my kids.

Nothing is worse than giving  in to a child’s meltdown. It teaches them that they can get their way by this type of behavior.  A child who learns to get his or her way by throwing a fit will more than likely learn that this type of behavior is acceptable as an adult.

Whatever you do, never yell back at the child who is having the meltdown. As parents, we need to demonstrate how to properly resolve issues, so by remaining calm and steering clear of yelling, we can be successful models of this behavior.

A good way to calm these meltdowns is to allow the child time to vent.  He or she will not listen and follow directions until physically and emotionally ready. Once your child has calmed down, reinforce what the directions are and consequences for not following them.

Sign #3: You say no to everything

If you are one of those parents that says no to everything, it’s time to stop. While we do need to teach our kids that there are boundaries, there is no reason to say no to every request that they ask of us. I have struggled with this in the past, and I can’t say today that I still don’t struggle with it. Our kids need to be able to know that we are flexible parents that allow them to experience new things in the world. We need to use our best judgement on things they ask us and try to find ways to compromise with them.  When they ask you for that new video game, don’t immediately say no.  Come up with ways that they can earn the game. Start a chore chart and a reward system.  Kids love to know that they’ve earned something. We all enjoy that sense of accomplishment!

Sign #4: Your kids know no boundaries

While I talked about not saying no to everything in the paragraph above, our kids do need to know that there are boundaries. This means they need to know that there’s a respectful way to treat others. Kids that are constantly rude to others need to be taught the appropriate way to behave.

Like I also said earlier, kids need to be able to work for things they want.  If we are constantly handing things out to them all the time, this will be impossible. Instill values of hard work and celebrate successes. Setting regular house rules is a great way to show that there are boundaries in the house.  Kids need to know this because there are boundaries outside of the house. Schools have boundaries in place that kids are expected to follow, so setting similar boundaries at home will make it easier for them to transition to outside the home.

These aren’t the only signs

Of course, there are many other signs that you may not be at your best when parenting, but I will touch on some of those in future posts. I thought for this post that I would touch on my top 4.  No matter if you didn’t fit the mold on any of the above, or if you are guilty of all of these, we all have a duty to be the best parents that we can possibly be for our kids. A good goal to set for 2017 is to work on these things for the betterment of our family’s future.

Can you think of any other signs?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

My Kid Just Said

My Kid Just Said…#50

As most of you know, my 2 year old’s name is Cooper. He really sounds like a Boston native whenever I ask him to say his name. Maybe I ask just to hear it???

Me to 2 year old:  I’m daddy, who are you?

2 year old: I’m Coopah.

Me: Hi Coopah!

2 year old: Not Coopah. Coopah!

 

Should Parents Teach Their Kids To Believe In Santa Claus?

Should Parents Teach Their Kids To Believe In Santa Claus?

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Is this really a thing now??

Yes, unfortunately, it is. In the world we live in, everyone seems to get so butt hurt over things that it’s sad. I can’t even believe this is a topic that I can write a blog post about, but here we are.

I’m going to start off by talking about what my Christmas was like as a kid and go into what I believe we should be teaching our kids about this wonderful season!

My childhood Christmas memories

I can’t imagine a Christmas going by without mentioning that jolly old fat man delivering presents in a red suit. What would it be like if there was no discussion about Rudolph and the flying reindeer traveling the world on Christmas Eve?  When I was a kid, it was all about watching Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, putting up the tree and lights, and enjoying the frosty air – or semi-cool air we had down in Georgia.

I remember having countess hours of VHS tape recordings (that dates me a bit, haha!) of all of our Christmas mornings.  The one that sticks out the most is when my mom was singing “White Christmas” while my brother and I screamed.

I also remember my parents asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, “A choo-choo train, an airpwane, and a wight-bright.”

I asked for crap I didn’t need.  Most of the time I got the “big” Christmas gift I asked for, but there were also times when my wish list was too far-fetched. My parents were both teachers so their incomes weren’t very high, but they still managed to help make our Christmases memorable for a lifetime. What I wouldn’t do to be able to travel back in time to revisit those days (maybe I should give Doc Brown a call??)

Christmas Day for me was a glorious time!  My brother and I would take forever to go to sleep.  We knew that when we woke up we’d have hours of fun opening presents and playing with toys.  We knew that “A Christmas Story” would be playing 24 hours and that we could watch Ralphie shoot his eye out all day if we wanted.

I think I believed in Santa Claus until I was probably 9 or 10.  My mom may be able to correct me though.  I think the thing that did it for me was hearing toys being put together and bags rattling around late at night while my parents talked about them.

Finding out Santa didn’t actually come into my house via his magical sleigh didn’t scar me at all. As I grew older I realized that I really didn’t want a fat man breaking and entering.  We didn’t have a chimney either so the fact that I heard that Santa always entered through the chimney on the roof made things suspicious right away.

Can teaching kids about Santa be hazardous to their development?

Believe it or not, there are some parenting experts out there that are saying that it might actually be damaging to a child’s development to teach them to believe in a lie. Some parenting writers I have recently had the displeasure of reading online actually say teaching kids to believe in a myth is morally wrong.  Are we really going that far in today’s society?  I hope not!

After taking a day or two to think about this topic, I finally have an answer to this debate that I hope many of you agree with. Instead of teaching our kids the commercialized version of Santa Claus (you know, the guy I talked about in the first paragraph!!), why not teach them about the REAL St. Nicholas?

St. Nicholas was actually real.  As a wealthy man, he regularly gave gifts to the poor without expecting anything in return. This act of giving actually aligns with Jesus Christ.  Why wouldn’t we want to teach them about the real St. Nick and how he actually lived?

I disagree that teaching our kids to believe in Santa Claus is potentially dangerous to their development. Here I am at the ripe old age of 37 and I can tell you I have NEVER been in therapy because the realization that my parents were actually pretending to be Santa Claus scarred me for life.

Some parents insist that we should tell our kids the truth from the beginning instead of dragging it on for years. I call those parents ridiculous and bah humbug to them! We can still participate in the modern Christmas traditions while teaching them why we celebrate it to begin with. These same parents ask if we’d really enjoy seeing the sad expressions on our kids’ faces when they find out that Santa isn’t real. Most of the time, it’s the kid that finds out on his or her own rather than a parent or relative breaking the news to them.  They begin to put the pieces together year by year. There’s no avoiding it – the conversation will be had at some point.

Teach kids the real reason we celebrate Christmas

I do believe, though, that our kids need to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to fall away from that with all of the commercialization that goes on today. Commercial after commercial attempting to rush you to the store to buy your kids the latest and greatest gadgets – most of which will probably not be touched much a month after Christmas is over.

By teaching our kids the “spirit” of Santa and the loving heart that St. Nicholas showed to the poor, we can deliver the truth to them in a way that will still give them a chance to experience Christmas in all of its wonder and joy.  Rather than not let our kids do anything at all, let’s teach them the spirit of Christmas is a period of joy, togetherness, hope, and love. No matter what the commercials may tell you, you don’t need that new car.  While a car may be a satisfying gift for some, it’s still just a “thing” and a “luxury.”

I encourage all of you to continue to teach your kids the spirit of Santa and encourage them to learn more about St. Nick. There’s a lot to learn about the Christmas season and what it means to give unconditionally. I want my kids to learn, more than anything, that we should give to each other all the time, not just at Christmas. I want them to love God, family, friends, and themselves.  I want them to realize what is important and what is not. While I do teach my kids about Santa, I know that if one day they don’t believe in him anymore that it’s not the end of the world.  I’m still surprised I can get away with being the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny!

What do you think?  Should you tell your kids the truth now about Santa?  Or do you believe there’s no harm in the fun to carry it on as long as possible?

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