Sep 23
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“I can’t get my eight-year-old son away from the computer.  All Eddie wants to do is play video games every waking minute.  When he’s not at the computer, he walks around with a gadget with games in his hands or he’s talking on his cell phone. At dinner he’s texting his friends, when he’s supposed to be doing his homework, he’s playing games, when his friends come over to play outdoors with them, he opts to stay home, when his grandparents come to visit, he’s polite, even affectionate, but in a flash he’s gone to his room. I can’t ever seem to get his attention and at this point we’re arguing all the time and I just don’t know what to do.”

Mend the hurtful moments with your kids

While January and resolutions may go together like a hand and a glove, they’re often broken by February. But how about taking a cue from February’s Valentine theme—and making a promise to yourself purely out of love? In particular, I’m thinking of a promise about being a better parent. We all have moments when we react, or overreact, to our children’s behaviors without thinking about the effect it might have on them. Parents who call their children names such as lazy, careless, clumsy, and stupid, probably don’t realize that their kids often take what they say as gospel. After all, most children think their mothers and fathers know everything, so what their parents say must be true. Literal beings that they are, children may internalize the label they’re given and act accordingly, sometimes for life. Or, they may engage in extreme endeavors just to prove us wrong.

How do you manage to slow the flow of “stuff” that your children clamor for? Another toy, another gadget, another cell phone, a bigger and better computer and they are deliriously happy – that is until the next improved model beckons (which could very well be the next day.) Then discontent sets in along with the incessant “must haves, gotta haves, and everyone has . . .” If you wonder if the gadgets rule, try talking to a child holding a cell phone, Ipod, or game. You’ll be lucky if you get a single “Uh, huh.” And if gadgets are dominating our children’s attention, what do we do if  “getting” for themselves becomes more important to them than giving of themselves?

A child hides under her bed and cries because she is afraid. Another child stares blankly out the window and though he too is afraid, he does not cry. CASA hears them, and hundreds of children like them – children who have been abused, neglected, and made to suffer. But each child with a CASA volunteer has the chance of a lifetime to stop living in fear.
Last July, I interviewed Susan Berger, Executive Director of CASABaltimore and came away with a handful of notes, and a heart full of admiration. In her tiny office in downtown Baltimore, we spoke for an hour and though we could have spent many more hours talking about the important work of this agency, I learned enough to tell you that something quite wonderful happens in Baltimore and across the nation.

November 2010 Family Matters column, Baltimore’s Child Magazine
Reprinted with Permission                  
©Molly Brown Koch 2010

It’s hard enough to get our children to cooperate with us, so how in the world is it possible to teach them anything about volunteering?  But volunteering, or “volundearing” as I like to call it, is a matter of giving, and giving is surely a quality we all want our children to develop.
I know a family, (I’ll call them The Givers) where giving is second nature to every member within it. I was recently a guest in their home, and after dinner both children, fifteen-year-old Melina and 13-year-old Andrew, got up from the table, cleared the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen without being asked. Mom Giver saw the look of astonishment on my face, and Dad Giver said, “They’ve never been asked, they’ve never been told.” So how does this happen?

In my KEEP THE CONNECTION WORKSHOPSK, I ask parents if they can perceive childhood as basic training for their children’s future lives. Then as we brainstormed the various occurrences in their young lives we could see how many opportunities we have to teach vital survival skills – physical skills that will protect their safety and health, social skills that will help them get along with others, intellectual skills that will enable them to reach their potential, and emotional skills which affect all the others for better or worse. Your children’s emotional health is the deciding factor in their ability to become capable, well-balanced, self-disciplined, happy human beings.

Are bullies bullied by siblings? According to research findings quoted in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, the answer is yes: boys who are bullied by older male siblings tend to bully others. Girls who bully have poor sibling relationships, have high levels of conflict, and low levels of empathy.
Are bullies bullied by their parents? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services research shows that parents who use harsh physical discipline are modeling bullying behavior. On the other hand, overly permissive parents who are unable to set limits allow their children to do as they want without consequences. The research also revealed that parents’ lack of warmth and involvement also leads to bullying.

August 2010 column

I thank the reader who asked me to write a column about stay-at-home moms. It gives me an opportunity to present what I believe are some common misconceptions.

Mothers who choose to stay home for the explicit purpose of devoting themselves to raising their children deserve recognition.

Are you pregnant? Was it planned? a surprise? Is this baby your second? third? other? So are you nervous? happy? scared? worried? excited? regretful? all of the above? none of the above? Welcome to the CPAs – Conscientious Parents of America.

If you are worrying about the “rightness” of having another child, you are not alone. Here are some of the concerns of other mothers awaiting the birth of their next child:

Poor Kate. Poor Frank. Their 4-year-old son, Jake, cries ever might for someone to sleep with him, and Kate has been complying for years. At this point, Jake’s got a habit. Kate has read countless books, consulted an assortment of experts, and gotten advice and methods galore on how to train her little fellow at night–all to no avail.
To make matters worse, Kate and Frank are at odds. He does not approve of Kate “giving in” to Jake’s “manipulations,” but neither does he want Jake to cry it out. At wit’s end, Kate asked me for my thoughts on the matter. I began by telling her that applying modifying techniques that are designed to change a child’s behavior can work, they could bypass the child’s real issue.

From the February column:
“Children need to feel connected with caring adults who will listen and help put their problems into perspective.”

Now focusing on the core issue of Jake’s feeling of helplessness, Kate realizes that sleeping with him is not going to solve the problem.

What do you think about sacrifice as a value to teach your children? If you think about the many ways you have sacrificed for your children, from the minute they were born, (probably even before) think too, how it made you feel. Exhausted? Resentful? Noble? In pregnancy, we sacrifice comfort for morning nausea, heartburn, pressure, backache for the sake of having a child. We sacrifice sleep to feed the baby, we sacrifice real rest by sleeping with an ear tuned to the baby’s cry. Did you feel a sense of “selflessness” in giving of yourself to your children by meeting their needs before your own?

as seen in Baltimore's Child Magazine