The ‘desperate mom’ who contacted me two days ago did call back. I was able to pass along the telephone number of a wonderful social worker.
But the key piece of the conversation with her was my describing my feelings, how I had experienced intense internal resistance to making positive changes in how I related to my sons. Even more important, I think, was my telling her about how peer support helped me let go of very familiar and very dear (in the sense of hard won and the sense of much loved) negativity and resistance ...and eventually forge new patterns of relating to myself and others.
Parenting isn't rocket science, and babies aren't learning rocket science anyway -- although some them may grow up to be theoretical physicists -- but maybe, just maybe what they learn is even more difficult than all of that.
I think that ** the most important things babies learn is trust. ** They learn that they can trust us to keep them clean, fed, rested, comforted and now and then amused. They learn to trust their instincts and ours to make sense of the world. When, despite our best intentions and good efforts, the world doesn't make sense for them and they get fussy, tearful, fearful or furious, they need to know that they can depend on us to just be there.
That is the hardest of all: being with another person, especially a tiny person who can't tell us what's the matter, when he or she is inconsolable. That is the job, though, and we, as parents, need support ourselves to do the job well.
This one-day meeting at the National Press Club had many encouraging presentations on the business community's recognition of the importance in investment in early care and education. Response to my raising the issue of parenting resources was favorable. Time well spent!
This project, funded by Pew Trusts, MacArthur Foundation and others, is described fully at http://www.partnershipforsuccess.org.
Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that I missed posting this last May. This is a short version, just over three minutes, of a half-hour panel discussion we held at Cambridge Community Television for International Day of Families. See it on YouTube:
The Children's Society study, reported in the Family and Parenting Institute / FPI (UK) bulletin today, was tremendously encouraging to me, although quite troubling in its findings. Basically it says that two children out of each grammar school classroom are unhappy and most of the unhappiness is caused by family conflict. Why do I find this report encouraging? ...because resolving conflicts is at the core of the mission of Parents Forum 'to foster honest, respectful and caring communications in families' and we all want our children to be happy. I hope this report will lead more people to adopt our program!
Vicki Rideout, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Program for the Study of Media and Health (www.wff.org is the place to find all their reports), advises parents to 'stop and take a look at what's happening with your kids,' according to a Boston GLOBE article Thursday Feb.4.
Joan Anderson, author of the article, called the digital world 'a maze of menace and opportunity' and, quoting Rideout again, wrote that guiding parents through it is a 'job more parents should take to heart.'
I would like to know how parents are supposed to do this. How do you do it? Thankfully I am no longer responsible for guiding my sons who are grown and on their own. They are the ones who guide me, more often than not, with media use.
A resource mentioned in the article is a book Kids, Parents and Technolgy by Eitan Schwarz (Northwestern University): Dr. Schwarz urges parents to plan media as you would plan meals, since in either, kids 'will mostly consume junk.' Easier said than done.
Mood swings are the order of the day: One minute I am excited and relieved to have the third edition of our handbook printed and in hand. The next minute I am caught in a wave of fear, doubt and insecurity. But reading your favorable comments, dear readers ...wow... sends that wave packing! Thank you, thank you, thank you. On the upswing, here's my latest tack for marketing, suitable for forwarding:
Could **you** use a simple formula for How To Tell Somebody Something They'd Rather Not Hear? You can find it in Where the Heart Listens, our parenting and lifeskills book now available on Amazon and just in time for Valentine's Day. Get it as a gift to yourself or for a parent you admire. Ask your favorite local bookseller to order it through Ingram or request it at Barnes and Noble. Don't forget, also, to ask your public library to order the book and tell your friends about it.
(I will get the hang of blogging. Slow and steady wins the race.)
The voice of reason, in comments on this report just released, comes from a father of three boys in Ashland, Pa.: "There has to be a balance," says Paul Caputo. I could not agree more! While Vicky Rideout of Kaiser Foundation says that media use is "not inherently bad or good" it is clear that there is such a thing as too much. Chandler DeWitt, profiled in the USA Today article (Jan.20,2010) by Greg Toppo, said, "With technology, if you are trying to get a response from someone, there are so many ways you can get rejected...more opportunities to get bad news."
According to the survey, the more media young people use, the less happy then tend to be. The question Toppo asks - but finds no answers to in the report - is "Does consuming a lot of media makes children's lives more troubled, or do troubled kids simply consume more media?"
I guess that's why we go to church, to be lifted up: One of the lessons today was on the gifts of the spirit and how each of us receives our own particular gifts. The message reassured me, because I've been thinking that I am not doing enough or maybe just not doing the right things.
Then I thought of a line from Lily Tomlin's character Edith Ann in the book My Life So Far. Edith Ann complains that either she must not be doing enough or someone else is getting all the credit! So maybe I am doing enough.
And the horrifying situation in Haiti? All I can do is pray about that. I can continue to do that.
The disaster is geographically distant from me in Cambridge, Mass., and so enormous that it is very hard to grasp. But many Haitians live and work near us in Boston and are affected. How can we support them, as individuals and as parents?
A booklist came to me from Daryl Mark of the Cambridge Public Library and I am posting it on this site under 'In The News' - where I hope it will be useful to readers here - or anywhere - who are personally affected by the disaster and to anyone with friends, neighbors, coworkers worried about the fate of their loved ones in Haiti. Blessings and prayers are with you and with all those trying to help.