Tag Archives: parenting

He Was Mean Because He Liked Me

 

A Mighty Girl's photo.
This post showed up in my newsfeed today on Facebook. I agreed with it & it struck a chord, so I reposted it. A few friends chimed in with comments lamenting the fact that it does still happen today, in 2016. They see it all the time at playgrounds, in schools, and don’t know how to react. So they don’t.
It’s great that we all agree that this is wrong, but the fact that ADULTS see it happen and don’t do anything about it is just as bad as the ill-deed itself. Ignoring it is enabling the bully (and they adult saying it), causing the problem to thrive.
So what’s the big deal about a little teasing? What if it’s because the boy really does like the girl? Really, there isn’t any harm right…it’s just a phase, right?
I grew up in a small town where this was all perfectly acceptable. At daycare, when I was about 7, a boy trapped me under a plastic kiddie slide and shook me so hard my teeth rattled. It hurt and it was scary. I was told he liked me & sent back out to play. In fourth grade my best friend was repeatedly slammed into a fence. The boy’s hands were around her neck as her head wobbled back & forth. “Boys can play rough,” she was told. “Go play by the swings instead,” she was told. I witnessed another friend in middle school being slammed into a locker, presumably because the boy might have had a crush on her. I was tripped, shaken, pulled, and tossed and simply told to ignore it or assume that some kid liked me. In gym class while running the mile for our yearly physical fitness test one boy jogged up alongside me. “You know I’m going to break your legs,” he said with a huge grin. Even though I was the best, I still came in second that day.
I was becoming afraid of boys, of attention, and saw no point in bringing it up to any adult. After all, I was just popular, right? The message that I was getting was that boys liked me & they showed it by hurting, and I was supposed to be flattered, and possibly like them back. If for some silly reason I didn’t like them back then I was the one who had to remove herself from the area, who had to pretend it wasn’t happening, who had to give up a little. Instead of wearing any armor, I had to curl up into a ball and wait for the danger to be over.
When I was a teenager I was dragged into the woods where my boyfriend wanted to have sex with me. I was supposed to be happy that someone liked me, that I was good enough for sex. I couldn’t complain in college because he didn’t mean to hurt me. I was told by police that my harasser & stalker “just liked me & wanted attention” and “thing like this tend to happen to pretty girls.”
I wonder if my relationships with boys & men would have escalated to rape, stalking, fear, bruises if an adult had stepped in and said something when I was 7. If someone told that little girl that it was not acceptable behavior would she have been stronger? Would she have had armor instead?
Please don’t use this line and please don’t let others use it. It sets both children up for a very screwed up, confusing history of what healthy relationships are. The concepts of like/love and relationships become very warped when adults permit violence (and it IS violence) among children in the name of “love”. It teaches the bully that he or she can take what they like by force. It teaches the victim that there isn’t really anything wrong…maybe they are wrong. It’s hurtful to both parties and probably not true.
A Mighty Girl

When girls get teased or bullied by boys, there’s often someone who pulls out this tired phrase: “I bet he likes you!” Joanna Schroeder vividly remembers finally going to a teacher about a boy’s constant harassment at age 11, and how that phrase made her feel: it “filled me with a shame so profound, I never again told an adult about something a boy did to me.” In her recent article, “You Should Never Tell Your Kids He’s Mean Because He Likes You,” Schroder writes, “You’d think blaming bad behavior on a crush would be dead and gone by now, but it’s not.” To encourage parents and other adults to think about what “he must like you” really teaches, she breaks down the four reasons we need to stop associating mistreatment with romantic affection.

Schroeder argues that “I bet he likes you” is a covert way of victim-blaming. “Your child did not ask for this negative attention, regardless of the aggressive kid’s intention. Even if your child was acting flirty or teasing, nobody asks to be hurt.” That victim-blaming “tells [your child] that you are not a source of support for them when they need you most.” Dismissing bad behavior, she says, is also bad for the bully: “Bad behavior is bad behavior, regardless of the reason why. A child — whether it’s a boy or a girl — who is harming another needs intervention so they don’t continue the behavior…. Instead of asking the child who is doing the hurting if they like the other, grownups should ask the child to imagine how their friend felt when he or she was hurt.”

Equally importantly, Schroeder says that “kids’ friendships shouldn’t be romanticized. Kids need the opportunity in childhood to have friendships with boys or girls, regardless of their gender, without grownups introducing the adult notions of romance or attraction. Strong friendships with kids of all genders are important for kids, and parents shouldn’t make their kids feel funny about them.” If bad behavior from a male friend is immediately associated with romantic feelings, kids will begin to believe that friendships between boys and girls are inherently different than same-sex friendships. And even if a crush does develop, she points out, “one child’s crush should never become a burden to another.”

But perhaps most significantly, Schroeder writes, “You shouldn’t teach your kids that love equals abuse. Love equals kindness and respect, and it never, ever means touching someone in a way that will hurt them. When you tell your child that they were harmed because another person likes them, you’re connecting pain with love. That not only normalizes being abused, but also abusing others.” And this, more than anything, is why it’s time to put an end to saying “I bet he likes you,” Schroeder asserts. “As parents, we have the ability to change the world by putting an end to harmful old traditions… I’m not sure how the ‘dipping her pigtails in the inkwell’ trope started, but it’s time it ended.”

To read all of Joanna Schroder’s advice on The Good Men Project, visit bit.ly/1OMJheL

To start teaching children — girls and boys alike — from a young age about the need to respect others and their personal boundaries, we recommend “No Means No!: Teaching Children about Personal Boundaries, Respect and Consent” for ages 3 to 6 (http://www.amightygirl.com/no-means-no) and “Your Body Belongs To You” for ages 3 to 7 (http://www.amightygirl.com/your-body-belongs-to-you).

For books about healthy relationships for tweens and teens — as well as titles on recognizing and ending unhealthy ones — check out our new blog post, “20 Mighty Girl Books for Tweens & Teens About Healthy Relationships,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11338

You can also find many bullying prevention books and resources for children and teens in our two blog posts: “‘The End of Bullying Begins With Me’: Bullying Prevention Books for Young Mighty Girls” (http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10255) and “Taking a Stand Against Bullying: Bullying Prevention Books for Tweens and Teens” (http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10257).

And, for books to help children learn how to be supportive and caring friends, visit our blog post “Making and Keeping Friends: Mighty Girl Books About Friendship” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10315

Being a Mom Causes me to Live in Fear

This past weekend I stopped into a Barnes & Noble with two of my kids in tow. One of my sons had been invited to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese and we wanted to kill some time in a quiet place until IM & Hubs were done with the festivities. Their little legs were getting tired from all the browsing and became more and more aggitated as we neared the back of the store where the kids’ section was. They sat down at the little Lego table and began to play and build. After a couple minutes of mindless standing around, I stepped over to the closest shelf of adult fiction. Being twenty feet away from my kids didn’t bother me – they were quiet, engrossed,  and happy.

I quickly found a book I wanted and stepped back to the Lego table as an employee approached.
“Are you their mother?” she demanded. After I confirmed I was, she let out a huge puff of air. “Oh thank Gawd! I had someone complain about the children being unattended.”  Wow, that was fast, I thought. She must have been waiting for me to do SOMETHING! I laughed and asked if she was serious. Her face made it clear that she was.
“What are you talking about? I was right there, for like, 30 seconds. I saw them the whole time.”
“Look,” she said with a hint of a snarl beneath her ‘I’m here to help’ grin, “I’m not trying to make it into a big deal. I’m just looking out for the safety of the children.”
“Thanks. They are fine.” I was uncomfortable,  embarrassed. I was being put on the spot in a confrontational manner and I didn’t know why.
“No. You don’t understand.  Anything could happen in 30 seconds. I mean – I’m standing right here and you don’t even know me! I could have done anything to them.”
“They. Are. Fine.” I started gathering up our things.
“Well I had customers complain and I have to take these things seriously because…”
“You know what? I’m a customer, but not anymore. You are ridiculous. ” I shoved the stack of books I was going to buy at her and hauled my kids out to the parking lot.

I was so mad. She basically called me a bad mom simply because I wasn’t looking at my kids. I came up with a whole bunch of things I should have said after the fact:
– “I am not comfortable with your tone. May I speak with someone else, like a manager?”
– “You’re right! A bookstore IS too dangerous for children!” Look around nervously,  then make steady eye contact a little too long. “Especially with all you perverts swarming all over the place.”
– “You’re right; I don’t know you, and you’re talking about taking my children?!” then hysterically call 911 and demand mall security for a woman threatening to kidnap my kids.
– “Fuck off.”

Instead I went to Facebook to vent sarcastically. B&N responded with a number for me to call to make a formal complaint. I had every intention of giving them a piece of my mind.

But, I didn’t call. What was I going to say? What was I hoping to get out of it? While I felt I had certainly recieved blatant harassment, did I really just want to call and bitch about it? What would they even do? Fire her – that’s not really what I want. What I want is to be left alone.

As a mom, I get shit on all the time. People have pulled over on the street to tell me that my kids are playing in the front yard – and isn’t that dangerous – and shouldn’t I bring them inside? I’ve gotten nutrition lessons from ladies evaluating my shopping cart contents – don’t you know that much dairy will make them fat – you are teaching them poor eating habits by giving them whole milk. Are all these children yours – can you even handle that – you’re too young for so many – you do know how to avoid that don’t you? Children really ought to wear hats. I only assume I get this much “advice”  because I look incredibly young, therefore people must think I NEED their direction,  input, or scolding because I’m too young & nieve to know what I’m doing.

Ugg. Go away. Leave me alone!

We now live in a society where parents are jailed for letting kids play in their own yards. Children aren’t allowed to play simply because something might happen. Is someone going to abduct TWO children from a bookstore? That’s 80lbs of squirming, screaming child, so I highly doubt it. Are kids going to be molested just because they are playing in the yard? Maybe, but statistically speaking, no. We are living in a society that is being driven by blind panic. Society needs to calm the fuck down.

I hear, read, and see many comments about “kids these days” & how pathetic they are with their gadgets and their fear and not growing up with mud and jump ropes and rocks like they did back in the good old days before Internet and cable TV. Oh yeah? Screw you. The folks that grew up in the “good old days” were the ones that invented the technology that distracts kids now. They also propagated the fear that keeps them inside. It’s not the fault of children that they aren’t growing up outside, it’s the fault of the helicopter mom who can’t let her kid out of her sight, so it’s easier to prop him up with an ipad. It’s the fault of our neighbors who call the cops if mom doesn’t keep her son inside with an ipad.  More fear = less curiosity about the actual world. If parents constantly hover and micromanage their child’s every breath, then curiosity will be bred out of children. If kids are never afforded an ounce of responsibility for themselves they will grow up needy and afraid. We are so concerned about the safety of children, really? It looks to me as if we are crushing them.

The world isn’t any more dangerous than it was a few decades, quite the contrary, yet for some reason we are so damned afraid. And on top of it we have a nanny society that takes pride in bringing people down and pointing out everyone else’s “mistakes” just to prove that they are doing the “right” thing.

I’m mad because this society doesn’t work together to help parents or families. Instead they go out of their way to belittle & discriminate. I’m mad at that Barnes & Noble employee because I wasn’t viewed as another customer who might need assistance finding something; I was viewed as a young mom doing it wrong. I’m mad because I live in fear too – not of kidnappers, rapists, or danger – I live in fear that some nosey do-gooder is going to call CPS & I’ll be thrown in jail because I turned my back on my kids in a bookstore. We need to break the chains of this fear. We need to stand up for our rights as parents and the right to parent however WE feel is best.

Mother’s Day is a Sham

Mother’s Day is often promoted as a day to pamper Mom. Everywhere you look there are pictures, advertisements, deals, and carrying on about treating mom to meals out, the salon, a day at the spa, breakfast in bed, cute little trinkets of jewelry, etc, etc.  But let’s be honest; is that what ends up really happening? Or is Mother’s Day just another Sunday in a long line of regular Sundays? I know, I know some moms get the full Queen treatment, but I think most of us just have another regular day.

My day started at 7am when my husband opened the kids’ bedroom door and set them free.
I was awakened by two out of three of the kids jumping on my bed demanding cereal and milk.
I cleaned up four spilled cups of milk/juice/water
Cooked three meals which two noses snubbed at
Washed, dried and put away a load of laundry
Vacuumed at least half a dozen times
Broke up eight fights
Changed three sets of dirty pants and underwear
Fended off demands for snacks all.day.long.
Poured 15 bagillion cups of milk
Pulled a toddler, twice, out off of the pantry shelves
Wiped poop off the floor
Wipe poop off myself
Disinfected the bathroom, again
Mopped the kitchen floor
Took the garbage out to the curb
Showered and put the kids to bed (a half an hour late)
Washed the dishes

I did  get to:
   read 9 pages of my novel
   paint my toe nails
   take a shower with only one toddler in it

And I did get this from my son. He made it in his preschool school class.

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It was not a day of pampering for me. There weren’t gifts from the jewelry store. And I didn’t even open a single card, hand made or otherwise. Today, like every other blessed day, I was Mommy and I did what moms do everywhere, everyday;
I washed a scraped knee
I read three bedtime stories
I nourished my kids
I played hide and seek
I cheered for my son who learned how to ride a bike
I removed two ticks
I applied copious amounts of sun screen
I made rings and bracelets out of dandelions
I snuggled, and cuddled, and sang
I played numerous games of I Spy
I pretended to go camping in the bedroom
I fell madly and deeply in love just a little more with my children.

Yup, just another regular Sunday.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely and hard working mothers out there.

All the Whys of a Four Year Old

Four year olds are exhausting.  They are little wound up packages of infinite energy, unpredictable emotions, and growing appetites.  They also blither incessantly. Their curiosity is an inextinguishable flame that seems to only be fueled with more information.  My son will inundate me with questions; strange and random questions, unanswerable questions, and questions with answers that will only trigger more questions.  Ah! His endless interrogations about life boggle my mind!

Because some of his questions are so out there and seemed to be prompted by nothing at all, not to mention their frequency, I tried to keep a list of them all.  I wasn’t able to keep up with him but here is what I was able to jot down through out our snow day today:

How does the Geo get better gas than the truck?
Why can I hear the car when I’m inside?
What does that word say….”fun”?
Mommy, what’s your favorite colour?
Why is that river brown?
How will they clean the river?
Why is a moth not a butterfly?
Is this frog poisonous?
What kind of snake is this?
Why do toucans have big beaks?
Why are they killing the rainforest?
When will it be Spring?
Does know and show rhyme?
What does C-R-O-F-T-O-N spell?
Who’s going to have that baby?
Why do some people have to fly in airplanes overnight?
Why are there 3 fours in 4:44?
Why are some octopuses small?
If you wait a really, really long time to grow a bean will it grow into a beanstalk?
Are there beanstalks in real life?
Why is some people’s skin lighter and some people’s skin darker?
Why do Vikings have horns on their hats?
What’s an enemy?
What does “in distress” mean?
What do Leprechauns do?
Why is blue just blue, not made with other colors?

There were others too. Lots of questions about how to spell things, pronounce/read things, whether or not two words rhymed, if a word was indeed a real word, and many many random animal fact questions.

However tiring the question game may be, I know it’s really good for him.  It shows that he’s a clever boy and that he’s paying attention to details.  No matter how trivial an inquiry may seem, I try to give him an honest answer, and I really do try to find the answers if I don’t know off hand.  This is proof that is brain is growing and needs to be fed.  Besides simply supplying him with information, I know these exchanges help him in other ways too.  He’s learning to seek out information and that it’s ok to come to Mommy and Daddy with questions.  He’s learning how to have conversations with regular back and forth; how to interject his own thoughts, emotions, and previous knowledge; how to build on what he knows, discover his interests, and find new intrigues.

So, ask away little man! Mommy’s poured herself a cup of coffee, fired up Google, and is ready for what ever oddity passes through your sweet mind!

Thankful #20: Having my Parenting Methods Challenged

Most people are not thankful to have their parenting style scrutinized or questioned, but you know what, I am.  I was told today that my disciplinary methods of utilizing the Time Out Chair & separating the two fighting boys into different rooms were “Lame”.  I was then told that spankings & hitting harder than the child himself could hit was a much better option.  Striking the child was the only way to get a point across.  Period.

Ugg.

While I clearly disagreed, I had to think about WHY I chose my parenting choices.  Were mine really any better?  Were there holes in mine?  Was I really just being too soft on the boys…were they running me?!  And what was really so wrong with the alternative?  I don’t like debates or confrontation,  but I really don’t like being called lame or having someone insinuate that I’m a bad parent. So I had to stand my ground.  Aaaaaaaand the discussion ensued.

Okay, so it doesn’t really matter who said what, but basically I left feeling pretty damned confident in myself.  And why is that?  Because I went with my gut. Then when I sat back & had to think about (and defend) my gut instincts, I still felt right.  Often in my parenting I don’t think about what I’m doing or why.  I just do stuff because it was the way my parents did it or because it just feels right.  But I really should look at myself & analyze how, what & why I do what I do.  After all, these are my children and they are the most important things in my life, and I want to be sure that I’m not just coasting along, but am actually doing it right & for the right reasons.  I am thankful for the individuals who question or challenge my parenting choices because they force me to really think about it.  And then they reaffirm my self confidence.

Raising Bulls in the Teacup Generation

I like to think that I’m oh-so-sure about my parenting technique, but I certainly have moments where I just don’t know.  What I often question myself on is  whether or not I’m too hands off with my kids.  When I was growing up, my parents were the opposite of my friends’ helicopter parents.  After breakfast, my brother & I were out the door, getting into stuff & getting dirty.  We walked to school & back unchaperoned.   We rode bikes all over the place.  We were home in time for dinner (most of the time) & almost nothing happened to us.

But a lot of people say that we live in a different world now & that children need to be monitored, watched, guarded.  I don’t know if this is true or if the media hypes it up more.  Or maybe parents aren’t teaching their children some necessary street smarts.  I don’t know, but I do know that an awful lot of kids grow up to be afraid, demanding, entitled & simply unmotivated.  I don’t want my children to be like that.

My boys are currently 2.5 years & 1 year.  I close the gate across the driveway & let them play outside while I wash dishes, bake bread, or complete other tasks in the kitchen were I can see them out the window.  I let my little one fall down & I let the big one figure out things on his own.  I feel that freedom with responsibility is good for them & will help them grow into stronger adults.  But am I starting too young?

The family went to the a mall this afternoon that has a kids’ “Playtown” with various critters & slides they can climb on.  I don’t typically like such things, but it was bitterly cold & they needed to burn off some steam.  We took them inside the enclosure, removed their shoes (per the posted rules) & let them loose!  But as my husband & I sat, craning our necks to try & keep an eye on them both, we noticed a trend in the “helicopter parenting” style.  Most of the parents sat along the edges minding their children, reprimanding them cautiously for not sharing, & quietly flinching when their child tumbled backwards on the foam mat.  While most parents were fairly hands off, there were several who were very hands on.  They literally held their tot’s wee hand through the whole play yard, assisted them up the steps of the slide (and down again), and kept snapping fingers or clapping hands to get the little one’s attention focused on some sort of play thing.  These children all looked over stimulated & stressed.  I could tell that they weren’t having fun.  Besides, with all these “big people” in the way, I couldn’t see around them to keep an eye on my own kids!

What I noticed about these helicopters was that most of them were not the actual parents; they were grandparents!  Now I know why so many folks from my generation are having such a hard time getting out into the world.  They too were latched to their parents’ hands, never learning how to explore, problem solve, or go down a slide on their own.  And apparently, the helicoptering is a trait that’s being passed down.  You raise the way you were raised & you grow to fit your world.  If a parent shrinks the world down to the length of their arm, wouldn’t the child’s growth be stunted?

I also wonder how my children’s world will be with so many helicoptered peers.  How will they affect my children & the way they choose to raise their own?  Will my children end up being the bulls running through a china teacup shop?  I’ll probably remain more on the “free range” side, but I’ll keep wondering until they are done growing & set out on their own.