What’s the Most Awkward Question Your Child Has Asked In Public?

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Turn Awkward Into Teachable Moments

By Alicea Jones

A motherly look at coping with the humiliating things kids do

Kids are embarrassing, especially between the ages of two and six. They say what’s on their mind, often to the mortification of their moms. And kids seem to wait until we’re out in public to ask the most distressing questions. Loudly.

Once when my daughter was three, we were on the baking supplies aisle looking for corn meal or quick grits or something when she yells out, “Hey Mommy, is that a man or a woman?” I looked up to find her pointing at a person holding a ten pound bag of sugar staring daggers at me and my loose-lipped daughter.

Now, if you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know that feeling that overtakes you immediately after impact. It’s as if time stands still and you hope that the crash was just a dream. Well, that’s how I felt when the individual stood there staring at me, waiting to see what I’d say.

“Mommy, is that a man or a woman,” she blurted out again.

The problem was that I couldn’t tell either. So I had two choices: guess or run. I broke every grocery store speed and courtesy limit as I whipped the cart holding my groceries and my uninhibited three year old around the corner and down the next aisle.

“Well Mommy, was that a man or a woman?” She pestered.  “I don’t know, I whispered. Let’s go see about those Fruit Loops.”  Embarrassment made me break my own sugar rule.

I know I’m not alone. Local mom, Rachel Powell, had a situation that even tops mine. I wouldn’t repeat it except that she gave me permission to share it with you. This is how she tells it:

When Lance was about 3 years old he notices a lady at the park whose shape resembled a pear. He walked right up to her and asked if she had a baby in her tummy. You can imagine my face, which was starting to contort because I knew very well there was no baby in her tummy! 

 

But nothing could have prepared me for what came out of his mouth next.”Well is it in your butt? ‘Cause if it is not in your tummy then it must be in your butt!!!” 

 

All I remember was going dumb and dizzy all at the same time. I honestly can’t remember the rest of the day. I was in a daze….

 

These are the moments that try mothers’ souls. So, what to do? Here’s a few ideas on how to handle those oh-so-mortifying situations:

  1. Most people tolerate minor faux pas. Most adults understand that kids do say the most awkward things. However if your child has blurted out an offensive question or statement, apologize and use the situation as a teachable moment with your child.

2.    It’s not necessarily a reflection on your parenting. Usually, we’re as shocked as the victim when our children blurt out hurtful or embarrassing statements. It takes kids a while to learn the social graces and courtesies expected in our society. With training and time, they’ll get the hang of it.

  1. Better later than now. Have conversations with your youngster about saving “people questions” until you’re in another section of the store, in the car or back at home.

When our little ones do and say embarrassing things, we’d like to take a magic eraser to the moment and make it go away. Yet, these moments are teaching times and great fodder for belly laughs when our children grow up.

Your Work Will Pay Off

I’m on a birding kick. I’ve hung feeders and nesting boxes in my backyard hoping to attract beautiful winged creatures that I can marvel at from my office window.I’ve been waiting for weeks and feeling impatient that flocks of birds haven’t descended. Waiting is hard!

When I look at all the beauty we’ve been provided in nature, I am reminded that good things come slow and with some effort. Seeds take time to germinate before they become beautiful flowers. Birds take weeks to build intricate and wind-defying nests. Vegetable gardens require water, nutrients and cultivation in order to bear a bountiful harvest. So it is with us.

Whether you’re a writer trying to get published, a social media strategist waiting for followers, or a parent wondering if your efforts make a difference; the seeds you plant take time to germinate. There are no shortcuts. But with perseverance and patience, your hard work will eventually pay off.

Check out this article by Michael Hyatt, at Intentional Leadership: The Myth of Fun, Fast, and Easy (and Why It Keeps You from Getting the Results You Want). He shares some great reminders about working hard and being patient for the results.

Note: Just before I clicked “publish”, four bright yellow American Goldfinch began eating from one of the feeders!

No High-Bar Parenting Required Here

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I used to think that I had to do great things to be considered a good mom. Things like teaching my child phonics and reading before age 5, fixing 100% organic meals, spending hours playing with her and reading Goodnight Moon thrice before bedtime. And when I didn’t do these “bar-too-high” things, I pointed a guilty finger at myself. Half the time I’d walk around feeling bad about myself as a mom.

Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to see the things that really make a difference. My dad passed away this week and I am left reminiscing about the things he did for me and my siblings that made us feel loved. He didn’t have money or power or prestige. He didn’t buy us things–he barely had the money to feed his drug habit. Yet, I knew that he loved me. I would have preferred that he had spent more time with us and that we had a more normal home environment. Nevertheless, what he did leave me and my siblings is beyond anything money or even extended quality time could buy.

My father taught us to laugh. He was an avid Three Stooges fan and would often practice is slap sick on us kids. We feigned complaint but deep down, we knew it was his way of relating to us. Humor was his way of dealing with life and in the process, he taught us find joy and laughter any way we could. When we get together, it’s always a raucous, fun time because we tell jokes, pull pranks on one another and laugh, laugh, laugh.

The other thing my dad left us with is our faith. When he wasn’t laughing, he was reading his Bible and counseling us from God’s word. What a crazy combination; laughter and faith; Three Stooges and God’s word. Yet these are the tools he used to show his love. It was the only way he knew how.

My father’s life reminds me that we don’t have to be perfect as parents. Loving our kids doesn’t require money, a big house or extended vacations. Loving is in the way we do what we know how to do from our hearts. We all have something intrinsic to offer our children. For my dad it was humor and faith. For you it might be cloud watching or cooking or fixing motorcycles. Whatever it is, share it with your children. And when you are gone, they will know, like I know, how much they were loved.

Free Yourself From The Fear of Making a Mistake

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Freedom From the Fear of Making a Mistake

When I became a mom, I was so afraid of making mistakes: Mismeasuring the cough medicine, using the wrong discipline technique, saying or doing something that would harm or cause permanent damage. These things made mothering a nerve-wracking job until I got tired of my anxiety and learned to chill. I want to share some of my conclusions. Hopefully, you’ll find a nugget here that will help you be more relaxed too.

 

 

  1. You’ve made it so far. Before you became a mom, chances are you didn’t make mistakes that caused yourself permanent damage or harm. You fed and clothed yourself. You were in tune with your needs and did what you needed to do to live life. When you didn’t have what you needed, you sought out helpful resources.  You will use the same characteristics —such as resourcefulness, common sense, and asking for help — when raising your own kids.
  2. Most of the mishaps we worry about never happen. You’ve probably heard about the studies that show that 90% of what we worry about never happens. And the remaining 10% are things we can’t control anyway. So loosen up. Most of the mistakes we think we might make never happen.
  3. Accept that you’re human. Okay, so let’s face it, we all have and will make mistakes. Even those moms who seem to have it all together make mistakes. And if they’re honest, they’ll tell you so themselves. Look, being a mother means on the job training. Sure, you can read books and many are helpful. But the truth is that the real learning happens between 6:00 p.m. colic and trying to find your place on the shifting sands of the teen years.
  4. You’re not alone. For real time: we’re all afraid of something. There’s power against fear when we ban together. So make sure you’re hanging out with other moms at least once a week. When you bounce things off of other moms, and they do the same, it builds camaraderie and confidence.
  5. You are not perfect. Breaking news: You will make mistakes because you are only human! Every mother, every person makes mistakes. But you learn from them. You do your best. And don’t condemn yourself or wallow in guilt. Instead, remember that you are a beautiful work in progress. You will continue to grow, learn, and be the mother your children need.

Have you ever been fearful of making mistakes as a mother? What other things can moms do to combat the fear of making mistakes with their children?

Here are a few encouraging resources you might find helpful:

A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself by Renee Swope

Treasures for Women Who Hope by Alice Gray

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Single Mom Gives Hard Times The Boot (and the Shoe and A Lot of Jewelry)

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It all started with a pair of shoes.

     Newly divorced, Renee Winot decided she wasn’t going to put her kids through any more grief. With her divorce money, she bought a user friendly computer and a digital camera and began a business that allows her to make ends meet while being available for her children.

     “I put these shoes on ebay and they sold. And I had a couple (pairs) of them and I sold them.” But, Renee didn’t stop there. “I had just been looking around and I’d found these big lots of jewelry and I had this money in my account from these shoes and I turned around and used it and bought these lots of jewelry.” In fast motion, Renee found herself an ebay entrepreneur with her own account and an ebay store.

     The days of securing a job just because you have experience and a good track record are gone. Too many lookers, too few jobs.  But opportunities are available, even in hard times. Sometimes you just have to think out of the shoe box. 

     Those close to Renee wouldn’t think this overnight entrepreneurialism such a strange thing. Her independent spirit winds through her work history. “Well I’ve never been a conventional person as far as jobs go. I don’t think that I ever had a job that I would really consider typical.” Renee worked for an insurance company soliciting business. She liked it because she got to set her own hours. “I was getting paid for what I sold.’” But her favorite job was selling cars. “I was actually pretty good at it. I got to make the money I was worth because I worked on commission.”  Selling cars was also how she met her ex-husband.

     Loss of a husband can be a scary thing for women, especially those who have stayed out of the job market to raise a family. All of a sudden you’re back in the hunt, competing against people half your age with more recent experience.

     Instead of giving in, Renee said a prayer which for her resulted in clarity and direction. “And so I just kept saying ‘ok God, you’re just going to have to show me what to do. And you’re going to have to make it really clear because I’m a hard case God. I’m one of those kind of people you have to throw a brick at. So God slammed all the other doors shut and opened the door wide that (He wanted) me to go through.’”

     Renee says her safety net was and is her faith. “I have a real trust in God because I am also a recovering alcoholic and addict and I’ve been sober– this Sunday, it will be for 15 years. And that is all by God’s grace because I never could have done that on my own. To me if God can take me out of that, then God can do anything.”

     Renee also thinks it important for single women to look ahead and not live in yesterday. “Yesterday? So what. Tomorrow isn’t even here yet. All I know is I’m sitting here right now talking to you and that’s it. I’m missing out on all that if I’m worried about all those other things.”

     Even if Renee were prone to worrying, she wouldn’t have time for it with tracking down merchandise and shipping items for her ebay store. Her kids have even gotten into the act. “The girls go in there and cut the labels out and Luke runs everything into Cardsmart.  He’s figured out the customs forms. He   knows what they are and goes in and pays the lady at the desk and they know him.”

     Renee not only goes to work in her pajamas, but she’s teaching her kids at the same time. “And so here my children have been home with me and they’re helping and they’re learning that they can do this too. They just think they’re being a part of the family. They’re so excited about my job. And it all   came from a simple prayer and a belief that God was not going to drop us on our butt.”

     Renee’s advice to women who suddenly find themselves single is to make time for your self. “And that’s what lifeguards are taught too. If you go in to save a drowning person and the person tries to drag you under, you’re not going to be good for that person. So you’re supposed to step out and wait until they’re totally under.  So you’ve go to make sure you take care of yourself or you can’t take care of anybody else.”

     And so Renee takes care of herself and her children by thinking differently and keeping a hopeful attitude. “If I look at something long enough I can find something bad about everything . You can find the perfect flower and if you look long enough you will find something bad about it. And if you look long enough you can find something positive in everything single thing. So which way do you choose to look at it? I have a choice when I wake up in the morning. Do I want to look at life as good or do I want to look at it bad?”

Alicea Jones

www.aliceajoneswriter.com

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #5 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview: The Benefits of Vitamin N

184805039This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q- What advice do you have for parents who may not have had healthy role models?

A – Parenting is not a popularity contest. Every kid needs vitamin “N,” which is “No,” and vitamin “E,” which is encouragement. Kids don’t need praise. Praise is actually destructive. Praise should be reserved for God. It’s the false praise that gets me. I mean, the kid strikes out at little league, and the parents are screaming “Great at bat!” I’ve got news for you. It wasn’t great at bat. “Everybody wins, everybody gets a trophy.” That’s the mentality today. It’s crazy. Failure is important. Talk to anyone who has done it in life. Ben Carson: His mother was illiterate but made him write a book report every week. I love that. She was a domestic, cleaning people’s houses. Ben Carson is the top neurosurgeon at John Hopkins Hospital. Those kinds of stories inspire me.

It’s sometimes hard for me to watch my child fail. But I know that’s how they learn and mature. How about you? Were you allowed to fail as a child? How do you handle failure with your own children?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #4 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

78616973This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – You’ve talked about parents who overcompensate in their parenting because they feel bad about their own upbringing. What impact does overcompensation have on parenting?

 A – Number one, guilt is the propellant for most of the lousy decisions you’ll make in life. There are certainly more guilt gatherers who are females than males. Men generally don’t run on guilt. Lots of women do. Because they feel bad about the circumstances they bring to their family with their children, they overcompensate. “I’m just going to love Little Buford, love him, love him, love him.” Which ends up creating a little monster because she doesn’t have the guidelines she needs to have. She doesn’t have the firmness she needs to have. So that combination of guilt with no model to really follow in her family—she survived and she’s coping, and now she’s got kids and she doesn’t know what to do.

Okay, so how many of us haven’t made parenting decisions because we felt guilty? I certainly have, more than once. If I were starting all over again, I would ask myself before deciding to buy that new toy or whatever article of appeasement: “What is my purpose for doing this and what message am I sending to my child?” If my answer is that I feel guilty, then I’d try to give myself some time to think about what I was doing before acting. At least that’s what I hope I’d do. How about you?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #3 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

122440385This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – Some people who have unpleasant childhood memories have grown into adults with a strong need to control their surroundings. How do you explain that?

A- A defensive controller is one who controls not because he or she enjoys controlling, but they do it for defensive purposes. Why? Because they’ve been hurt . . . hurt by people. So they’re really guarded. Very few people get close to them. You become a defensive controller to protect yourself from getting hurt. It’s a coping mechanism; it helps you get through the day. It helps you get through the year. It helps you get through life. Men are specialists at that because men thrive at arm’s length in relationships, where women want to hug everything that moves.

Aaah, convicted! I did try to control many things when my child was younger and often felt exasperated because there are many things you just can’t predict or orchestrate. I also learned that if you try to control everything, you stifle the sense of wonder and exploration in yourself and in your children. Vulnerability is a beautiful quality but one that doesn’t come easy  to most of us. I just finished a  study on the subject vulnerability with a group of other women.
We used the book, Daring Greatly by author and popular TED Talk speaker, Brenee Brown. I found it very motivating.

How about you? What experiences have you had with control and parenting? Any tips for the rest of us?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #2 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

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This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – How do you explain why some people who grew up in challenging home environments defeat the odds by making good of their lives?

A – How did I deal with a dad who was an alcoholic and drank too many brewskies most of his life? I never drank a beer. You see in families that lots of times an alcoholic father produces the alcoholic son; the alcoholic daughter. So you either fight them or join them. Part of that is the resiliency that’s in their personality. It becomes their thing to do things well, to pursue excellence, to be different from whatever [they] had to grow up with. Some people will turn their back on that [dysfunction] and live a life that is exemplary. Others won’t. I don’t have a magic answer to that. Some fall by the wayside. Some suck it up and go a different direction.

I, like many, was one of those who sucked it up and went a different direction. Propelled by a mother who hung in there even though she had to raise six children on her own, I wanted to make her proud of me.  I was also influenced by an aunt who told me stories about achieving impossible dreams. Those stories, a desire to live differently and wanting to bring happiness to my mother were my driving forces. But I wonder about those who don’t make it–those who fall by the wayside. Maybe the big difference is having positive role models. Perhaps if I hadn’t, I would have gone the wrong way. What do you think? What factors make the difference in influencing a young person’s life?

Photo: Thinkstock

Post #1 Breaking the Chains of Your Past

78815965I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting his insightful thoughts about how our past affects how we view life and how we mother. Don’t miss his answers to some pressing questions.

Excerpt from article by Alicea Jones

All the eight-year-old boy had to do was run out on the basketball court and perform the five-second Williamsville Billies’ cheer: “Basket, basket! Score, score, score! Williamsville Central, we want more!” Somehow, young Kevin Leman, the eight-year-old mascot, wearing his sweatshirt that displayed a billy goat, forgot his lines. At first he froze, mortified. Then a surprising thing happened: When everyone started laughing, Kevin realized that he loved the attention and the ability to make people laugh. It’s that childhood memory, the heady thrill of willing people to laugh, that helps define Dr. Kevin Leman today.

Here’s what Dr. Leman had to say about his own family background:

Q – Some of your childhood memories include growing up in a home with an alcoholic father. How did that situation affect you?

A – When you don’t have a relationship you should have had with the dad, you pay for it in the long run. It’s sort of like making a cake and leaving one main ingredient out. Now what happens to the cake? It falls flat. So you end up with ways of coping with that missing piece. So you become a survivor; you’re in survivor mode. You go “I’ll show ’em.” That happens to a lot of people.

I’ve had a similar experience growing up in a home with a drug addicted dad and all the resulting fallout. And I can say that I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to prove that I am not defined by my childhood. But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not about proving anything to anyone. It’s about knowing my purpose in life and working toward fulfilling it. How about you? How does your upbringing affect your life views, whether you are a mother or not? Has your view changed over time?

Photo: Thinkstock