Mixed Messaging of Legalizing Marijuana

Photo by  Roberto Valdivia  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roberto Valdivia on Unsplash

The trend of legalizing recreational marijuana may be giving children and teens a mixed message about the drug. While there are many touted benefits and even use of non-addictive forms, it can affect a developing brain in ways we don’t even yet fully understand. On top of that, it can have affects on judgment and decisions.

Teens and tweens are susceptible to risk-taking and it makes sense they may want to experiment for a variety of reasons. It’s also important for them to understand the risks they are taking.

On our most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, we talked with Jim Maffuid, Executive Director of Child Guidance Clinic for Central CT and father of 4 young adults. Jim specializes in helping families prevent, recognize and overcome addiction. Jim helped us understand some of the terminology and shared some options for talking with our kids about this complicated topic.

Nurture Self Esteem

Teaching our children healthy habits to build self-esteem often starts with our own journey. That doesn't mean you need to have it all together for your kids to develop good habits—in fact, the more transparent you are about your own struggles and victories, the more your kids can see you modeling persistence. By being open, vulnerable, and intentional, you can create a safe space for your kids to grow. Create a space where they can ask questions and observe the practice of forming healthy habits, such as activity, nutrition, confidence, agency, and self-esteem. Here are a few places to start.

Focus on Strength

It's easy to start with outward appearance. We love our kids inside and out, but finding the right language to empower them without focusing on compliments or comments related to physical appearance can be difficult in our society. Focus on what your children can do, the strength and power of their minds and bodies, and how they can use that to accomplish their goals. 

Be Your Own Fan Club

Self-deprecation is so easy to fall into, and the constant negative thoughts sometimes spill out into comments about ourselves, our bodies, and our successes or failures. I know I've been there where I catch myself Should-Ing on myself (counting those things I didn't accomplish when Sunday evening rolls around) instead of enjoying a quiet moment with my kids. Our kids see us and see how we view ourselves, and they often mimic that behavior. If we display self support, validating ourselves the way we would validate our kids then our kids will learn to do the same.

Support Independence & Celebrate Uniqueness

The world of activities and self-expression are boundless, especially for a kid. Another way you can help your children find hobbies and habits leading to self-esteem is by asking them things like, "what makes you special?" or "what do you think I love about you?" Help them identify their own hobbies, favorite foods, ask them for input on family activities, their wardrobe, afternoon activities and even the kind of shows they like most--this builds ownership of their choices and habits, which empowers your kids to build a confident sense of self. 

Building self-esteem is not a linear journey, and that's okay! Encourage your kids to make their own choices and teach them to live with the consequences of the choices and disappointment. Be prepared for choices that may differ from yours. Encourage persistence. You're here to guide, encourage, and build those habits right along with your children.

The Many Influences on Body Image

Photo by  iso topon  on  Unsplash

Photo by iso topon on Unsplash

Everything in moderation - right? That goes for food and screen time. We’re seeing a connection between our use of technology and our eating habits. This mix is also affecting our teens’ and tweens’ body image. And have you ever heard of moralizing food choices? I sure hadn’t.

So what is the effect of our own eating and our screen time on our kids’ body image? And how can they develop a healthy outlook? On our most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, we talked with Emotional Eating Coach, Carey Niekrash. She helped us understand eating right and helping our kids understand the importance of healthy choices - food and screen-wise.

Normalizing Trauma

Photo by  Tammy Gann  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tammy Gann on Unsplash

We’ve seen some recent high-profile suicides of people affected by the Parkland, Columbine and Newtown tragedies, including the father of a Sandy Hook victim, Jeremy Richman.

These deaths have happened amidst a health crisis: The CDC reports that the suicide rate for males and females has increased since 1975. The rates for females has doubled from 2007 to 2015.

In the most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked with Alicia Farrell, Cognitive Psychologist Specializing in family issues. She helped us better understand trauma and think through the idea of normalizing trauma to help us support loved ones and ourselves.

Stop Should-ing On Yourself!

Photo by  DANNY G  on  Unsplash

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

Do you find yourself regretting the small stuff, harping on the details of the day, or justifying your decisions? I know I do. I think it helps to know you are not alone. Just the other day, while on a walk with my friend, I realized I was chastising myself for not getting more work done before heading out on a walk - as if I hadn’t been working all day. As if I didn’t deserve to go for a walk because my whole to-do list wasn’t complete. Moms can be harsh on themselves and we tend to expect more of ourselves than is reasonably acceptable. This is one of the reasons I wrote my first book - I was sick of people saying, “I’m such a bad mother,” or “I’m the worst parent ever.” I guess that could be uttered in jest, but it’s telling - we often leap to the negative. And I was one of those people labeling myself without true cause. I mean come on, forgetting to pack a snack really isn’t the worst thing ever.

I tend to see what I have left to do more often than celebrate what I have done. My friend turned to me as we walked and she told me to stop should-ing on myself. It really resonated with me. I should on myself all the time - I shouldn’t eat that, I should’ve run that errand while I was already out, I should be working…. and the list goes on.

Photo by  Dawid Zawiła  on  Unsplash

Stop Should-ing On Yourself - I have embraced this as my motto for the summer. So this past weekend when all of Sunday had gone by and I had “only” done this and that, instead of announcing (as I often do on Sunday evenings) everything I should have done, I turned on the television with my kids and enjoyed some down time. When I hear myself use the word should, I am attempting to reflect on if it really is a should moment. It’s silly the amount of things I regret in a day. I welcome you to join me (and correct me when you hear me doing it).

Let’s enjoy a summer of cans, wills, oh wells, and maybe laters and stop should-ing on ourselves!

Dealing With Grief and Supporting Others Dealing with Grief

We all experience loss in many ways and when we are processing such deep emotions it can be hard to even make it through the day. Often we feel the pressure to act what others would deem appropriately and in fact, sobbing or anger might actually be appropriate but not accepted as such. And when someone close to us is going through the stages of loss, it can be hard to support them and often we find ourselves at a loss for words..

Sarah Cody and I recently had the pleasure of talking about dealing with grief and supporting others who are dealing with grief with Christa Doran, Founder of Tuff Girl Fitness. Christa bravely shared her own journey and how she works to help others build strength physically and emotionally.

One major take-away: sometimes we have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and simply endure the experience. Please listen to the newest episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines. And if you like what you hear, share it with others!

Systemic Cheating

Photo by  Ben Mullins  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

The College Admissions Scandal continues to gain momentum as prosecutors pursue more charges. In our latest episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, Sarah Cody and I talked about the systematic cheating with Denise Pope, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Stanford University, Co-Founder of Challenge Success, and author of Doing School and Overloaded and Underprepared.

No one ever said parenting was easy, and it’s definitely different every day. But we cannot expect our kids to learn values or develop their own value system unless they have a strong model - and we can be that! Our conversation continues to explore the way we can help our kids and also how we can support our schools.

From Shop-a-Holic to Budget Fashionista

I might as well admit that when it comes to fashion, I am a recovering shop-a-holic. I’ve never sipped fine wines, and a home-cooked lasagna is as good to me as a night out at a restaurant (especially when my husband is cooking). I’m mindful of how I spend, so I always justified my spending on clothes as my one splurge. There are two problems with that justification: 1. Consistent splurging defeats the purpose of a splurge, and 2. I have a husband and children that are my responsibility and these splurges were coming out of the family purse. While my clothing habit wasn’t breaking the bank, it was one of many areas I could learn to cut back and identifying small areas helps to gain control. Budgeting became a form of gamification - it was just another competition to win.

One of my proudest budget moments: We were in a store and my daughter asked if she could show me something… you probably know that request well. Usually, “can I show you something?” means, “can I show you something I really, really, really want and will you buy it for me?” Well, my daughter took me over and said, “I know I don’t need this, but I really want it.” In this moment my daughter demonstrated something it took me four decades to practice regularly.

Whether you need a little push or are already budgeting and just need some fresh ideas, here are some tips that helped me:

  • Set a budget for items your children frequently ask for and include them in the decision-making of how to spend it (a good opportunity is a clothing budget since kids often want to weigh in on how they dress).

  • Enforce a one-night-sleep-on-it rule to curb impulse purchases. Make sure you sleep on the decision to buy anything that you are considering purchasing but didn’t go to buy that day. Once you go home and really weigh out the need vs want you will have a better perspective. It also models good money sense for your child.

  • Purchase with thought and share the process with your children so they understand the rhyme to your reason and so you are accountable to a true reason.

  • It’s ok to splurge every now and then so long as you practice gratitude for what you have.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I found that even with our new budget I was still feeling the urge to shop to settle my nerves. So how do I stick to our budget? I remember I am accountable to the family budget. This is a reminder to me that when I spend on clothing that money cannot be spent on something for my children or my husband. Though I still feel occasional pangs when I see an amazing new pair of shoes, it actually feels good to put a cap on spending. And the concreteness of the spreadsheet and the accountability to my husband when we would talk through purchases would help me think about what I want to buy, decide how I can divide the money to clothe us all, and remember to appreciate what I have. This lesson has been hard to learn for me, but I am glad to see my children developing into smart consumers as a result of my process. I still love clothes and shopping, but purchasing within reason has given me perspective and taught my children well.