A Child’s First Words

This post is made possible through the support of Cochlear. All opinions are my own.

It seemed like a technicality: after having my son’s first birthday picture taken at our local newspaper’s office, I was asked if I wanted to complete a communication screening from the First Words Project. While I knew some of my answers to questions like “does baby look to where you point?” had not been “yes,” I wasn’t especially worried…

I wasn’t especially worried until l got a letter from the project that said Wayne was not communicating at the level that would be typical for a 12-month old. I was invited to come in for a detailed screening.

I would be dishonest to say the questionnaire and subsequent invitation to a detailed screening were totally unexpected. I have a degree in child development. I have an older child who had hit typical milestones by twelve months that Wayne had not achieved. I had stood behind him, at 4 months old, clapping loudly hoping he would startle (he did not). After that, I had gotten his hearing tested (he passed the hearing test).

But something was not right.

He had very few words.

He was not looking at objects I tried to direct his attention to.

He was, in the official language of the First Words evaluator on a Communication Evaluation Report, “communicating below what is expected for a child his age.”

Cochlear Implants

Over the next year, Wayne participated in a therapeutic play group at First Words and continued to undergo evaluations. I was fanatical about doing every single activity designed to provide additional support, such as “increasing sound and word productions during predictable routines” and “increasing use of gestures.” I had already been a very interactive parent; I probably looked a BIT frenetic in my effort to connect with him.

By his second birthday, the project evaluators told me he was no longer “below what is expected for a child his age.” He had subsequent annual evaluations until kindergarten, when he was declared ready for kindergarten.

Although Wayne’s communication issues ended up being resolved (in layperson terms, he had apparently been a “slow talker), I developed (and maintained) a hyperawareness about young children and communication issues.

My own personal experience of constant anxiety about my child’s future, and the possibility that some doors would be closed to him because of a communication disorder, is what compelled me to join the Cochlear team to discuss how they help people have access to sound.

One to six out of every 1,000 children in the United States may be born with a severe to profound hearing loss.¹ Just as early intervention helped our family determine if my son had a communication disorder (and rule out hearing loss at 4 months of age), Cochlear knows how critical early intervention is for children who may have hearing loss. Identifying and treating hearing loss early has been confirmed by research to lead to better speech, language, cognitive and social skills outcomes compared to later-identified children.²

Cochlear provides parents with online support, information, and the opportunity to connect with others specifically about hearing loss. If a child does have hearing loss and his or her audiologist, doctor, or other qualified professional determines a cochlear implant should be considered, the resources at IWantYouToHear.com will help the family start the process of figuring everything out (medical professionals are of course absolutely critical to evaluating the decision).

For Natalie, Cochlear’s role in her life as a toddler will extend into the rest of her lifetime.

I was devastated when I got that first letter from the First Words Project telling me Wayne was not communicating on a level of other children his age. I still struggled to understand, even as I went through the motions: the evaluations, the play groups, the home activities. I called one of the evaluators to lay bare my fears: that the outcome of these activities was not going to be good. Fortunately, she listened, with empathy and expertise.

Cochlear aims to do the same: meet new parents where they are, with empathy and expertise.

As their motto says, they want their patients to:

Hear Now. And Always

Cochlear ImplantsOn June 1 from 7 am – 7 pm MDT, Cochlear is hosting a Facebook Q&A — Building Your Child’s Brain, One Word at a Time — with the Thirty Million Words team. Ask a question at the chat! Click here for more info.

Note: The Thirty Million Words Q&A is over, but you are welcome to follow their Facebook Page for continued access to information about young children and communication skills!  ~ pk 6/2/16

NOTES:

  1. The Prevalence and Incidence of Hearing Loss in Children. Available from: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Prevalence-and-incidence-of-Hearing-Loss-in-Children/
  2. Tharpe AM, Gustafson S. Management of Children with Mild, Moderate, and Moderately Severe Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Otolaryngol Clin North Am 2015 Sep 30.

Time for Peace

I have a blog post in my head that hasn’t made it to the “page” yet. This is partially because as much as I would like to process via the blog some of my parenting concerns, my blog is a public place and both of my kids are on social media so it simply doesn’t seem fair to them to post the one in my head.

The blog in my head would be about the challenges of coming to terms with your child not being who you envisioned them to be, but rather who they are meant to be.

Even as I write this, I am feeling hypocritical because I am the first to post or share those pieces of content on social media that encourage acceptance, appreciating people for who they are, and embracing all different kinds of abilities.

In all honesty, as my son comes closer to turning 16, I am still not sure what to do with the part of myself that wanted to be a “baseball” mom (and it didn’t have to be baseball … name any sport or activity that involves endless practices, uniform purchases, trips to matches, etc.). Baseball came and went. Football came and went. Gymnastics came and went. Soccer came and went (fleetingly). Speedskating came and went (but is still sort of on the radar screen). Running and triathlons came and went (but hope springs eternal in this running mom’s heart that he will find joy in running again someday).

Time for Peace

Breakfast on the Track 2010

I have also struggled with my son’s lack of deference (not that being deferential has been the way to go for me, in retrospect) to elders. With my father in law living with us for the past ten months, it has been a hard time in many ways. My son has shouldered his own share of the burden in ways I perhaps have not sufficiently thanked him for, but I still cringe when he is short with my FIL or tells me “not to engage” when my FIL is combative (for the record, he is right but still…).

Time for Peace

For one moment today, that all went a little bit out the window.  After Fr. Jim gave a homily about “things you can’t unsee” (which this visual learner appreciated since it had graphics to accompany the message!), it was time for the “passing of the peace.”

As we were greeting the other attendees, I was shaking hands/hugging the fellow attendees but there was an elderly gentleman seated directly in front of me who clearly had mobility issues. He had stayed seated during the Passing of the Peace. It was easy to miss him … to not make the effort to get his attention, make eye contact, shake his hand.

BUT that is exactly what I watched my son do out of the corner of my eye. Wait for the gentleman to see that Wayne was waiting on him, then shake hands and exchange a wish for peace.

On an Easter when our responsibilities for my FIL kept my husband home instead of attending worship with us, when my daughter was at her church home with her best friend and her family, it was a day to put aside “normal” hopes and expectations. In the interaction between Wayne and the gentleman, there WAS a moment when all of the expectations and hopes I have clutched so tightly to my really didn’t matter.

Because the gentleman in the row ahead of us needed something that only my son was prepared to give.

ALLELUIA.

Time for Peace

Easter at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL

 

 

 

Where Does Innovative Service Begin?

I am grateful that Chip Bell shared a book (The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service) with the world that fits in well with these harried first few weeks of school (for those of us in the U.S. south, at least!). In addition to the start of school, I have also been juggling a procurement at work, a freelance editing project, a father-in-law with health challenges, and various demands of life that all seem to be screaming, “If you haven’t noticed, summer is over!!” This book is readable, piercing in its intensity, and positive.

Innovative Service

As I was considering incidents in my life that exemplified the service Chip highlights, I kept going back to the pharmacy staff at the Publix used by my in-laws. Due to a stroke and some other complications, my father-in-law is on a lot of medications. My mother-in-law has her share of prescriptions, too. They are “regulars” at that pharmacy. One day, my father-in-law had already been driven to Publix to pick up the latest refills (he no longer drives), only to discover upon getting home that one needed medication was not there. When my mother-in-law called to ask about it, they noted that it was now ready. “But I can’t get to Publix now,” she shared (she is blind and does not drive either). A staff person from Publix delivered the medication to their home.

pills

But I witnessed something else at a different Publix today (I spend a lot of time at Publix!) that I just have to share. It may be a stretch to work it in to a blog about innovative service but let’s see if there’s a way.

A parent was berating her son. I didn’t look closely but I think the child was somewhere between 15 and 20. Apparently she had been trying to call him via cell phone in a different section of the store and he had not answered quickly enough. She was being so angry and loud that I honestly was wondering if I was on one of those shows like “What Would You Do?” that was assessing if people would step in and intervene if a child was being verbally abused. The line I remember most was:

“You are about as ignorant as can be.”

Now, I have my own “confrontation in Publix” story that doesn’t put me in a nice light at all. It is such a traumatic story that it hasn’t yet seen the light of day (and it happened when my high school freshman was in kindergarten). I also know that parenting is stressful and I do not walk in this lady’s shoes. All I know is being treated like that (and whatever happens at home out of public earshot) isn’t the kind of stepping stone that a human being needs to grow into someone who provides “innovative service.”

In his chapter called “The Fly-Fishing Principle,” Chip Bell quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

My heart still hurts vicariously for the kid who tonight was told “you’re as ignorant as can be.” As a parent, as a member of teams of various kinds, as someone who has supervised people, I am reminded that respect starts early. Before innovative service shows up at the office or on the showroom floor, some parent, babysitter, or caring adult takes the time to demonstrate it long before ROI is even a consideration. Thank you, Chip Bell, for a book that reminds us just how far respect can go if we incubate it lovingly in the first place.

Source: The Shelby Report

Source: The Shelby Report

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

 

Full Support (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, one of the Mama Kat prompts is “a lesson you learned.” It appears in my case, I’m still learning.

It seems that in situations where my son has gotten in trouble of some kind, my response to the adult in authority is always “You have our full support.” The frustration is: how do we translate our full support of the adult into behavioral change in our kid?

Wayne (now 14) has been skating with the speed team (practicing with the beginners) for at least a year now. We haven’t pushed him to participate in the speed skating competitions, partially because (rightly or wrongly), it was hard for me to see spending money on the expenses that are involved in an out of town competition at a time when my husband wasn’t working.roller blade

There was a local meet today, however — more of a “practice meet.” Apparently he signed up on Thursday (glad to see him take initiative). We maneuvered the family schedule around to get him to Skate World by 8 a.m. (yawn) despite what was rapidly turning into a raging case of swimmer’s ear. I left him at Skate World, thinking that his “symptoms” would inevitably be “worse” when I was there. It was a tough call to make because I love being at my kids’ everything. I have missed very few meets/races/games in my life.

When I texted him to tell him that I “couldn’t” make it to Skate World before taking my in laws to church, the text I got back was “Well I got sent to the lobby (read: thrown out) but it wasn’t all my fault.”

Trust me, this is NOT the kind of text you want to get walking into church!

The version from my son went something like this: “So and so took my money and bought a cupcake with it then when I took the cupcake, it ‘ended’ up on the floor. Oh and he somehow hit his head when he tried to jump over me.”

The consequences of his choices (besides getting kicked out of the meet) may mean (another) one month suspension from recreational skating (although he can still go to speed team practice) and possibly the loss of the privilege of the all important “all night skate” occurring this Friday night.

As he was describing the incident, and the fact that he is supposed to call the coach on Thursday to ask about all night skate, I was already envisioning my “you have our full support” email. I secretly hope they’ll take away the all night skate privilege, if for no other reason than it gets me out of a 7:00 a.m. pickup and saves me $25. I not so secretly hope hubs and I will just be the parents and tell him no.

I am still struggling with how to turn our “full support” into him taking responsibility for his choices. I am getting worried, y’all, that the things that are irritating at 14 will be worse at 18, 23, 28 …… the consequences of the adult world can be pretty damning, whether or not you have your parents’ full support.

To conclude, I think the “lesson I’ve learned” is that I’m still learning. And that sometimes “full support” is not enough; it has to be paired with tough consequences.

Mama’s Losin’ It

In A Jam

During my father in law’s illness, I have often been the family member to escort my mother in law, Barb, to church. When we were leaving today, she mentioned that she needed to stop by the fellowship hall to pick up Christmas jams and jellies she had ordered from the annual jam/jelly sale.

When she and I arrived at the jam/jelly sale, one of her friends said she had put Barb’s purchases aside, since Barb had prepaid. When I went to pick up the box of approximately 16 jars of jelly, the friend asked me if I needed help. A couple of conversations overlapped at that point. I was telling the friend that I was fine (I guess the question had to do with me carrying the box while Barb was holding my elbow in the usual position that a blind person does for mobility assistance). While I was saying I would be fine, the friend was recruiting her son, who looked to be around nine, to help me. Although I truly was fine, I also recognized that the mom was trying to encourage altruism in her child and I said something to her like, “well, are you looking for him to have a job to do?” Eventually it was agreed that her son Ryan would carry the box of jams.

Our little procession started out of the fellowship hall, with me guiding Barb in front and Ryan carrying the box a few steps behind us. We were stopped by quite a few people since everyone wants to know how my father in law is doing. We made it a few steps, and got stopped by another well wisher. At that point, a gentleman came up to Ryan and asked if he needed help. Although my eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head weren’t working, I think Ryan was actually doing fine but the adult made it clear that he wanted to take over.

I didn’t have time to explain the whole “his mother wants him to have a job” deal. And frankly by this point the afternoon’s obligations were stacking up in my mental calendar and I just. wanted. to. get. out. of. there. So we all got to the car, the jams were loaded, and Barb and I went off on our way.

The situation with Ryan reminded me of the time when Wayne Kevin was quite young (six or seven) and had run an entire 5K. He was faster than me at the time so I was behind him. When we crossed paths I knew he was farther ahead than he should be, and he told me one of the traffic control personnel told him to cut it short, I guess because he was “little” and “cute.” I was so annoyed!! And I was annoyed because Wayne had been doing fine on his own. Although he really didn’t care about his time in the race, the official time wouldn’t be accurate because he had not run the whole course and he wouldn’t have the pride of having done something he was perfectly capable of doing had an adult not intervened.

It seems a bit mean-spirited to snark about the adult who helped Ryan today. He was tremendously gracious and, like almost everyone we have encountered as we navigate the additional needs for transportation, food, and moral support as Wayne’s dad deals with his current medical situation, he just wanted to help.

But the situation sparked off a question in my mind so I thought I would share it with you readers and get some thoughts. (And it is World Kindness Week so feel free to remind me that the kindest thing I could have done would have been to delete about 627 words of this post and make it, “Thank you Ryan and you, Mr. Nice Guy who wanted to help.”

What a jam.

Just Shine (A Mama Kat Writers Workshop Prompt)

When the Mama Kat writing prompts for this week came out, I blithely ran a “random number generator” for one through five and came up with number two. The relatively easy part: write about a time someone made you smile. The not-so-easy part: write in poem format.

And that’s how I ended up writing Just Shine:

Just Shine

I wear a white robe – my “acolyte uniform”

          I pass the priest the wafers, the wine, the water; I wash his hands
Each communicant kneels at the rail
          Dressed “to the nines,” in sweats or jeans – and everything in between
She is all in something from “Justice for Girls”
          A shirt that has a pink bunny on it, with a pink rhinestone collar and glitter
Her shirt says “just shine”
          She is still a child – the balance has not at all tipped toward womanhood yet
The pink leggings match – the headband – the shoes with hearts on them
          It all coordinates – there is also an “Almost Too Cool” set with a baby blue puppy
I remember shopping with Tenley at Justice
          Charmed by the innocence of each image
Stressed by the cost, by her enthusiastic pleas not to wait until things got to the sale rack
          Now the images, prices, and sounds bombard me at Hollister and Abercrombie
 I smile and reminisce

          Wishing this child and her mom an extended stay in the time of “just shine”
Mama's Losin' It

How Much Longer Will I Be Blogging About My Children?

                                                        

Little_green_felt_tip_pens_biggerBy the time I finished composing my comment to Liesl Jurock’s Mama’s Log this morning, I realized that I had drafted my blog for tonight. Although I had seen the topic of “Have Mom Bloggers Gone Too Far?” a few times this week, I had not really paid attention to the renewed chatter the topic of mommy bloggers had gotten.

The topic crossed my radar screen when Kat blogged about the pros and cons of being a semi-generous sharer regarding how much of her life (and her family’s images/identifying information) she shares with her followers.

The topic crosses my mind every time I am on Jess’s A Diary of a Mom page and happen across the link to the explanation of her choice to use pseudonyms for her children, in order to give them as much online anonymity as possible.

The topic crosses my mind when I am casually conversing with friends about social media; some don’t like putting pictures of their children on their blogs but don’t mind putting them on Facebook. Some people bestow pseudonyms on their children in a practice that is apparently more prevalent than I realized. The choices are numerable, and the bloggers I know cover a wide spectrum. 

Liesl’s position, which I am hopefully summarizing accurately, is this: She writes. She parents. (She has a supportive spouse and a solid marriage). She infuses her experiences with her son (with his real name) throughout her blog, because to do otherwise would result in a) her losing a vital outlet that helps her figure it all out, and b) those of us who read her work losing a link in the “we’re all in this together” (apologies, High School Musical) climate that helps us stay sane.

Here’s what I said in response:

Hi Liesl, I am glad you wrote this. I had seen a bit of the “mom blogging controversy” over the last few days. When I read blogs by some moms who have thousands of followers, I do think (occasionally) about the exposure their children are getting, especially in pictures. Maybe someday I’ll be blogging for thousands -right now it’d be a banner day to blog for a hundred.

My absolute primary reason to blog is to keep my “writing muscle” fresh, and to leave my children out of THAT equation would be the most unnatural thing in the world. Therefore, when Sunday (my usual blogging day) rolls around and I search my brain for a topic, if one of my children is part of that topic, so be it. I have found that I am less inclined to write about my teenager, not because she is the less interesting of my two children, but because either she’s not involved in the “blog worthy” events about which I write or because I just don’t glean as much material from her since she’s often out of the house or behind earbuds.


My husband doesn’t read my blog. I sometimes wish he would because utter strangers know more about me (like why I stood in the middle of a major highway sweeping up glass from an auto accident) than he does, but it also gives me (and those followers) a tiny world in which I am quite independent. I can live with that for now, and it’s not like I could force him to read it, AND it’s his loss after all.

I often wonder what my children are going to take to the therapist’s couch with them as adults – I imagine in overcompensating for the things that sent me there, I am creating a bunch of new issues for them. I suppose with my blog, maybe they’ll have written backup instead of relying on their memory banks!

I want to make sure to reiterate that I respect every parent blogger’s choice about how they handle their chlid’s identity on their blogs. 

I suppose if my kids don’t want to be in my blog they can behave like angels 100% of the time, make perfect grades, never get into conflict with their peers, and always make consumer choices that defer to the abject poverty in many parts of the world compared to the relative luxury we have.

Hmmm……sounds like they’re going to be here on momforlife for a long, long time!

Wordless Wednesday

As the parent of a teenager, I have stopped being surprised at irritating text messages from my daughter.  They pretty much mirror the dialogue we share in person, in emails, and during phone calls.

Last Wednesday, Tenley was fulfilling her weekly commitment to help my mother-in-law.  She had been there a little longer than her shift usually lasts, and she was ready to leave (but I was still at work).  The conversation by text consisted of four variations from her of “are you on your way yet?” paired with my “not yet” responses.  When I finally was prepared to leave and texted, “On my way,” I almost didn’t even check her response when I heard the little chime that indicated an incoming text.  I was just over this conversation, and I fully anticipated exactly this:  FINALLY! or this:  It’s about time.

What I got instead was this: 

This exchange occurred on a Wednesday, and it was surprisingly pleasant enough to leave me …
WORDLESS

Five Decades of Lessons

Whenever I read something that has “blogworthy” potential, I file it electronically.  My file is growing.

When I read Thursday’s Daily Good, published by Charity Focus, I immediately knew that the post’s “Be the Change” directive to “reflect on the greatest lessons from each decade of your life” was going to be my blog topic this week.

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Zora Neale Hurston
Decade One (1964-1973)
My family lived in three places within this decade:  Orange Park (because my dad was still stationed in the Navy at NAS Jacksonville; Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico (more Navy moving), and back in Orange Park as he completed his Navy obligation onboard the USS America, and retired toward the end of this decade.

The great lesson(s):  It was good for me to live in Puerto Rico.  Although it wasn’t an exotic foreign locale, I was introduced to Spanish at a very young age (when it is easier to learn).  We also did not have English television in the daytime, so I had to go out and about.  I also vividly remember the spanking I got when I opened the Barbie I had been given, even though I knew it was a duplicate and I knew my parents planned to return it.  It was one of those seminal moments when I “got” the fact that my parents meant what they said.

Decade Two (1974-1983)
Saturday Night Fever to Big Hair.  Was that only one decade?  I lived two places in this decade:  Orange Park and Lake Butler (my parents’ hometown, where we moved in 1979).  I recall how much I learned about music the week I was thrown into band camp along with the advanced flautists.  This phenomenon would happen in the next decade when I was the only non-native Spanish speaker in an advanced class.  It is also the decade when an adult authority figure made unwelcome advances, and I found myself in a car full of people I didn’t know that well with a glove compartment full of marijuana, several towns away from my hometown.

The great lesson(s): Moving from a big place to a little place requires you to respect the history people share with each other; being the big fish in a small pond does not give you instant credibility, popularity, or status.  Secondly, that my parents believed me when I explained the inappropriate advances, and they took the phone call to come pick me up (no questions asked) when I did not want to partake in the marijuana smoking.  (It didn’t help that it was drivers’ ed summer and I had just been watching all those horrible, graphic driver education movies.)
Decade Three (1984-1993)
This decade involved being elected to the Homecoming Court at Florida State University, two “Challenge” bicycle/mission trips, the aforementioned challenging Spanish class, graduate school, almost three years in New York City, and getting married.  It ended on the worst of notes, when my sister in law Ann Kiger Paredes died in her sleep at age 30 (of Long QT syndrome, an undiagnosed congenital heart condition).

The great lesson(s):  Although I loved being on the Homecoming Court, I should not have actively campaigned for it.  Living in New York City taught me a whole different view of how  cultural background factors into people’s perceptions of who I am (I had never before been asked, “what are you?” as in “are you Greek/Italian/Irish/etc.?”).  It also taught me that in a city where people are literally from all around the globe, the basic things that make relationships tick among people are universal.  And …. when you total your car on I-95 and end up facing the oncoming traffic, it’s not an especially good idea to open your door INTO the traffic. 
Decade Four (1994-2003)
This entire decade, I have been working at Florida Healthy Kids Corporation.  I also gave birth to Tenley (1996) and Wayne (1999).  When I talked recently to a friend whose daughter has two young kids and doesn’t feel that she has time for “extras” because she is so laser focused on those kids, I explain how incredibly intense that period of parenting is, how physically, emotionally, and psychologically your entire self is given to those children. 

The great lesson(s): In the end, it really doesn’t matter that your children have the matching designer outfits and the perfect “everything.”  If I were raising a little child again, I would focus more on the sheer experience of spending time with him or her than on attempting to perfect the “look.”  I would also defer a little bit throwing them into activity after activity, letting their interests unfold in a more natural way. 

Decade Five (2004-present)

It amazes me that I am over halfway through this decade.  When I disclosed to my husband recently the fear (that I consider irrational) that I am going to die before I get to do the things I most want to do (like use my passport), he said “we all feel that way.”  By 2013, I will have one child a year away from college and another in high school.  It strikes me that by incorporating the things I love doing (writing, being involved in our local film school, running), I am somehow coming closer to my true self and therefore being more engaged with my family.  This has also been the decade of looking the debt monster in the eye and saying, “yes, we let you grow unchecked for far too long.  It is now time for us to slay you once and for all.”

The great lesson(s): This lesson, I suppose, has extended itself over three decades.  When Ann died, I had just the night before chosen not to call her.  We had been buying her old townhome, and Wayne suggested I let her know that it had been painted (one of the financing conditions).  I said, “no, it can wait.”  Would it have mattered that she knew the townhome was painted? No.  But it matters, in retrospect, that I didn’t talk to her that night.  Sometimes a phone call or conversation about “nothing” is the one that matters most of all.

The Daily Good pieces always start with a quote.  The quote on the day that prompted this blog was also a “keeper”:

The years teach much which the days never knew.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is there something that years have taught you that “the days never knew”?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! 
And I’ll “run” into you next week, readers!

You’re Not the Boss of Me – A Book Review

When I got the email from Mom Central seeking participants in a blog tour for “You’re Not the Boss of Me – Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child” by Betsy Brown Braun, I couldn’t enter my sign-up information fast enough. 
Once I started reading the book, I placed little tabbies on pages with ideas I could relate to or that echoed parenting challenges I have had in the course of raising an almost-11 and almost-14 year old.  As you can see, the book resonated with me:
As I was reading the book, I had the distinct feeling that the universe’s vibes were aligning to give me some life experiences that would result in me adding more tabs.  Like the phone call I got from Wayne’s teacher telling me that he had decided not to turn in his art project, one he had been looking for about three weeks prior and that I had put out of my mind.  Like my 13 year old getting threatened to be “beat up” because she stated something factual (yet incendiary) in a phone conversation.  Like the parent of one of my son’s peers who called to say my son had had possession of his kid’s “Phiten” necklace four months ago and since it could not be found any longer our family should pony up a replacement.  Yeesh.  How is it that everything I learned obtaining a degree in Child Development and Family Relations, as well as a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Systems, goes out the door when I cross my own threshold?
Although I didn’t agree with 100% of Betsy Brown Braun’s suggestions, the book did help me take a step back from the intense, subjective aspects of parenting and think about some logical, concrete tactics that I can use to parent more effectively and restore the balance of authority in our household.  Ms. Braun reminds us parents that:

“…as you well know, your child is not like a self-basting turkey; he’s not going to emerge well-seasoned and having just the right tenderness without effort.”

So true. 

Ms. Braun breaks each chapter into an introductory “theory” section that discusses parenting topics such as “Growing an Empathetic Child,” “Teaching Responsibility,” ” Instilling Honesty in Your Child,” and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! – Eliminating Spoilage in Your Child.”  These introductory sections are followed by Tips and Scripts that provide concrete methods for applying the theory.  In the chapter on Building Independence, for example, Ms. Braun encourages us to Support your child’s interests; they may become his passions.  As a parent who has struggled to “let go” of Tenley’s successful and intense gymnastics career, I took to heart Ms. Braun’s reminder that, “Your child needs to live his life, not yours.”


In the chapter on Instilling Honesty, one of the tips is:  When it’s done, let it go.  How often does a particularly memorable incident become part of family lore?  Yes, I have had one of my two children steal something from a store.  Yes, I marched this child back into the store and made the child return the item.  Yes, many years later I still joke around with this child about the incident.  Ms. Braun reminds us parents that, “Your child must not feel defined by her transgressions.” 


Again, so true.


One of the appendices of this book is called The Ethical Will of a Grandfather to His Grandson.  Although the book goes into thorough detail and provides specific tips, this appendix almost completes sums up the point in one page.  I particularly liked:

  • When there is a job to do — do a good job, never a sloppy one.
  • When your time is free, explore the things you think might be interesting.  Follow your curiosities.
  • Think for yourself.  Don’t believe what you read or what other people say, unless it seems true to you.
Blue hair?  It happens.



Ups and Downs of Parenting?  Yep, that happens too:



Two children worth taking the time to read a book that will help them be all they are meant to be?  Right here:



Note:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of HarperCollins and received a copy of You’re Not the Boss of Me to facilitate my review  Mom Central also sent me a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.  pk