Monday, January 24, 2011

Teaching our Children Acceptance

I grew up in a mid-western city where almost everyone I met was Roman Catholic and either Irish or Polish. That said, somehow our parents were able to raise us to be accepting of all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. So when we moved to New York when I was a teenager and were exposed to much more, I was not shocked by it. I was more shocked by all the people there that were not so accepting even though they had been exposed so much more to people different from themselves. I now live in a suburb of Boston that has a lot of diversity.

In my CCD class yesterday, the kids were asked to draw three pictures of people that they love. I had them each share their pictures with the class. Most of the kids drew pictures of their mom, their dad, and one other person. One little girl show her pictures and said I drew my mom, my grandma, and my friend because I don’t have a dad. The other kids immediately asked why. My response was that all families are different. Some families have a mom and a dad, some have just a mom or just a dad, some have grandparents, and some have two moms or two dads. The little girl responded: “and sometimes your parents just don’t want to get married so they go to China to get a child.” She was so matter of fact with a smile on her face which made me so happy. She is being taught that it is a good thing that we all have different families and different stories to tell.

It is important to me that my children feel the same way. They just happen to be members of a “traditional” half Irish/half Italian Catholic family with a mom and a dad. Some of their friends come from “traditional families” of various races, some of their friends are adopted, and some of their friends have gay parents. They have repeatedly been told that all families are different and one type of family is not better than any other. They speak so matter-of-factly about these things. In fact, my 5 year old recently said that he wished he had 2 moms like his friend.

My 7 year old is learning about penguins in school. They have talked about how all penguins are unique just like all people are unique. His contribution to the discussion on what it means to be unique was “So, the one thing that is the same about us all is that we are all different.” Such a great insight! It made me so proud to know that my efforts at teaching my children acceptance are working!

How do you teach your kids acceptance of those who are different from them?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is your New Year's Resolution?

What is your New Year’s resolution? Mine is to try harder not to compare my children and put pressure on one to be as good as one of the others. What prompted this? I note that my son’s first grade teacher sent home when report card came home. Let me share it with you:

"Please do not picture me as being better or worse than all the other children. Remember that all children do not learn to talk or walk at the same time, nor do they learn math and reading at the same rate or in the same way. I ask you not to compare me with my brother, my sister or the kid next door. You can set realistic goals for me, but please be careful not to push me to succeed at something that is beyond my ability. I want you to understand that this report is a picture of my school progress. When you meet with my teacher, you will learn many things about my life at school, even some things that might surprise you. My teacher knows me as I am at school. You know how I am at home. The "real" me is somewhere in between."

I have three children. My daughter (9) is the oldest. She is a mature, bright girl and a good friend. She likes to follow the rules and is the “Ideal Student”. This set up high expectations for me when her brothers came along. Her brother who is 7 is emotionally young for his age and has fewer friends but is just as bright if not brighter. I have had to set different expectations for him in school than his sister. I am not as hard on him with his penmanship because that is difficult but push him harder in other areas. Then there is the 5 year old having to follow in both of their footsteps. He is one of the youngest in his class which is new to me as his siblings both have fall birthdays. I can’t expect him to read as quickly as he is 10 months younger than his brother was at the same point in Kindergarten. When they are older, the 10 months won’t seem like as big a difference but for now it is.

My children are all wonderful! But they are wonderful for different reasons. I want to celebrate their strengths rather than point out the shortfalls compared to others. My parents were able to raise 4 children into successful adults who couldn’t be more different from each other but all love and appreciate each other for who they are. I hope I can accomplish the same with my children.

What are your resulotions? Please share!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Each year at this time we make a book of holiday traditions in our classroom. Each child brings in a page with pictures and blurbs about their traditions. This got me thinking about our holiday traditions. There are certain traditions that the kids look forward to each year. Some are newer traditions and some are traditions that my husband and I have brought with us from our childhoods. Of course, we have the tree and the lights. Some of the other older traditions include and advent calender with the nativity scene and lighting an advent wreath at dinner each night. One of the newest traditions is the Elf on the Shelf. The kids won't even leave for school in the morning until they have found "Twinkle". We also fulfill gift requests from the giving tree at church. This is a tradition that the kids really enjoy and I like it that they are learning about giving as well as the reality that others are not as fortunate as they are. What are some of yoru family's traditions?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paying attention to birth order, and each individual child.

The order in which children are born into a family is a fact, but the effect that this order has on their personality and psychology is not a science. Many factors influence the results of birth order including the sex of the children, the physical size of the children and most importantly the spacing between them. The family is the largest influence on a persons development, more so than institutions or cultures outside of the family. Therefore, the influence of birth order in the family structure is worth looking at. However keep in mind when searching for reliable sources on birth order that the only way to discuss birth order is to generalize and stereotype.

Take the following prompt for example from The University of Maine.

Where Do You Fit?

  • Perfectionist, reliable, list-maker, well-organized, critical, serious, scholarly
  • Mediator, fewest pictures in the family photo album, avoids conflict, independent, extreme loyalty to the peer group, many friends
  • Manipulative, charming, blames others, shows off, people person, good salesperson, precocious

If you identified with the characteristics in the first list, you may be an only child or a first-born. If the second list fits you better, chances are you a middle child. And if the last list fits you best, you may be the youngest or baby in the family.

Birth order is not a simple system stereotyping all first-borns as having one personality, with all second-borns another, and last-born kids a third. Instead, birth order is about tendencies and general characteristics that may often apply. Other things also influence birth order.2

The underlying factor in birth order is parental attention. The first born experienced 100% of each parents attention while the second born will never know that reality experiencing only 50% of each parents attention. The expectations and implications of birth order are in the hands on the parents. If you expect the first born to do more difficult chores than the second born based solely on age while typically siding with the younger child in disputes than you may notice a personality development that follows suit.

Putting extra time and attention into treating the children as individuals, and giving them each the attention they deserve independent of each other is a good place to start. Expectations are best adjusted so that the older child is not naturally expected to get higher grades while the younger child is expecting to cause youthful trouble. Holding all children to the same standards, while valuing them as individuals with separate interest and talents goes a long way in avoiding Second Child Syndrome.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mom’s Choice Awards® Names Baby GoGo® Among Best In Family-Friendly Products

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) is an awards program that recognizes authors, inventors, companies, parents and others for their efforts in creating quality family-friendly media, products and services.

Parents, educators, librarians and retailers rely on MCA evaluations when selecting quality materials for children and families. The Mom’s Choice Awards® seal helps families and educators navigate the vast array of products and services and make informed decisions.

An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of our panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author, Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language; Patricia Rossi, host of NBC’s Manners Minute; Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C., host of the Wright PlaceTM TV Show; and Catherine Witcher, M.Ed., special needs expert and founder of Precision Education, Inc.

MCA judges are bound by a strict code of ethics which ensures expert and objective analysis free from any manufacturer association. The evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost.

To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five identical samples of a product. Entries are matched to judges in the MCA database. Judges perform a thorough analysis and submit a detailed assessment. Results are compiled and submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final approval. The end result is a list of the best in family-friendly media, products and services that parents and educators can feel confident in using.

For more information on the awards program and the honorees, visit

For more information on Baby GoGo visit

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Practical tips on preparing your first born for the birth of your second child.

I have a lot of friends right now who have just had or are about to have their second children. I’m the old pro in the group now that my kids are 6 and 4. We have talked a lot about how to get the older child ready for a new baby in the house. From my experience, both good and bad, here are some great tips for easing the transition:
1) If someone else will be taking care of the child during or after your trip to the hospital, make sure they spend time together before hand, so it doesn’t seem so out shocking. Unfortunately for my family, my husband was traveling full time. When he spent a month working from home and taking care of our son around the birth of my daughter, my son took all of his frustration out on daddy. However, his grandparents made a couple of visits prior to the birth, so he was used to spending time with them and going out on special outings.
2) Avoid any major transitions for the older child around the birth. I made sure to transfer my son out of the crib months before his baby sister would use it. Where I didn’t have as much forethought or control, was that he started preschool just 2 weeks after sister’s birth. Let me just say that it was NOT a smooth transition.
3) Read lots of books about new babies with your child/children. It really does help them know what to expect.
4) Get your child a big sibling gift. A new toy will bring excitement, make them feel special, and may take a lot of their focus, making your life a little easier.
5) Have a doll for your child to learn how to treat the baby, and also so they feel like they have their own special thing to care for while you are caring for the baby.
6) Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about a messy house or making a gourmet meal; just take care of yourself and your kids. The rest can be dealt with another day (or week or month!).


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding common ground at

During your first pregnancy the amount of information you need to gather seems endless. Everyone comes out of the woodwork to give you advice. Relatives from every limb of the family tree, colleagues and neighbors all have input as to exactly how they feel you should be proceeding on every topic related to your family expansion.

At first, all of the advice may be welcome but after you begin making your decisions, the advice keeps coming, welcome or not. How do you grow confident in your own decisions, name choices, birthing and pacifier plans when it seems there are a million people who think and advise differently? Keep in mind that no two families are alike, and no two women or pregnancies are either. While growing confident in your own path regardless of the opinions of others is a great way to start a family, it can also be beneficial to find a community of people from a similar demographic, belief or background for support.

The internet offers a wealth of connections for any type of support you could be interested in. A great place to start is from the bestselling author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. Groups you can join include Mom's in College, Dad's Corner, Blended and Multi-Cultural Families, Multiples and Twins and more. Its' an extensive forum for finding people just like you to ask advice of, whether you chose to take it or not.

140 groups including:
Single Moms
Young Moms
January 2011 Babies
Portland Moms
Food Allergies
35+ Moms To Be
Penny Pinchers

While all advice, wanter or unwanted, is worth a listen it helps to have a place where you can find people in a similar situation and ask annonymous and important questions of others in a similar situation. Use the internet to your advantage in your first pregnancy and you will find more than a wealth of information, you'll find support from people in a similar situation.