073: How to Handle Sticky Social Situations with Returning Champion Miss Conduct

Today Robin Abrahams, author of the weekly Miss Conduct advice column in Boston Globe Magazine, returns for her second hangout on We Turned Out Okay! (Robin and I first spoke last fall, in episode 42, so click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/042 to hear our first conversation together.)

In honor of Mother’s Day Robin has a special article coming out in this Sunday’s Globe Magazine, “A letter to moms from a woman without children;” in it she makes some very kind and wonderful promises to her friends with kids, such as “I will take the lead in scheduling social events, because you’re managing more social calendars than I am.” We start today’s conversation talking about Robin’s article – and then move on to her delightful book, Miss Conduct’s Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette.

In this guidebook for modern living – for getting along with other humans – is a tiny, wonderful few pages about breast-feeding in public; Robin and I talk about the perils of both breast-feeding and formula feeding in public, since both leave parents equally open to beratings from strangers! Robin shares great advice with us about how to deflect criticism, from strangers and friends and family.

Next, Robin answers some listener questions:

  • Anne asks “I’m considering homeschooling my preschooler next year, and I’m getting major pushback from my husband’s family. (My husband is on board, just not his parents and siblings.) They live nearby and we do see his parents a lot, how can I keep family relations positive in the event that we homeschool their grandson in the fall?”
  • MJ, who is planning a family trip involving traveling in the same car with her estranged mother-in-law for ten days, asks “please help me with easy situation diffusers and ways I may not have thought about to keep this trip as conflict free as possible…”
  • I wonder “what happens if you’re at the playground and a parent scolds your child – for doing something perfectly within his rights, in your opinion?”, a situation which I found myself in a few years ago.

Robin shares great advice for each of these situations, so you’re sure of some great takeaways from our conversation!

Today’s show is sponsored by Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child, the book I wrote for you if you are the parent of young children!

It’s getting some great reviews, including this one from Heidi de los Andes: “I really enjoyed this quick, clear and caring parenting book. Just like the author advocates in dealing with children, she couches her advice from a position of empathy. The book draws from the same general philosophy of instilling self-reliance as the Free Range Kids book by Lenore Skenazy… I also appreciated that it was a quick read (about an hour) and had lots of tricks and techniques you can start using right away.”

It’s available as an E-book in Amazon right now… To check out Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics click here or go to Amazon.com and search the name. I hope it helps you in your everyday parenting!

Podcast Episode 028: YCE – Listener Q&A, and Your Child Explained, The Screen Time Edition

I love shows like today’s, when a listener has written in and I get to respond on the air!

Today, Melissa asks how to help give her young kids the support they need in the outside-of-school hours. Here’s what I suggest: that Melissa and her husband give their children some control over what they do in their out-of-school time. Listen in for more details!

The other reason I love today’s episode is that it is a Your Child Explained. This is where I get to do something I’m pretty good at, which is understanding what’s going on inside your child’s head and giving you tools to use in your quest to be a less-worried, more-happy Old-School Parent.

In this Your Child Explained we get into screen time; episode 27, which aired this past Tuesday in real time, featured the postmortem (finally!) with journalist and mom Heather Kempskie. Heather was on over the summer to share about her amazing family trip in an RV, and I went and blew it by accidentally deleting the second half of our interview about the trip… So this past Tuesday, Heather came back on – our first returning champion – to share about the ups and downs of RVing. A big part of our conversation centered on shutting off the Wi-Fi and how that felt for her kids during their trip, and it resonated so much with me that I wanted to talk more about what happens inside our kids’ heads both during screen time, and after screen time.

Podcast 017: Our First Q&A, and 4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

IMG_1169This week, we take a temporary break from We Turned Out Okay’s Summer Camp series so that I can help you know how to talk with your children when a challenge arises.

Sometimes, even in beautiful summer, bad things happen, and today I share about the tough situation my family and I have found ourselves in over the last several weeks. But rest assured – we’ve still got three lovely, golden August weeks left to enjoy summer and we will do so!

One last thing before we get into the notes, this show has an epilogue, so after I have said “thanks for listening, see you next time” you still want to keep listening – I have something to share about both the Q&A, and about our dogs.… Not exactly a Hollywood ending, but a better one then I had ever thought could happen!

A Breakdown of Today’s Show

Today’s show is split into two parts, but before I get to those there is a really neat thing I wanted to share – friend-of-the-podcast Muttaqi Ismael, an amazing whiteboard video artist, has turned a favorite part of We Turned Out Okay: episode 5 – Four Risks That We Take With Our Children’s Well-Being Every Day into a fantastic whiteboard video! He’s a very talented guy, and to see the video just go to weturnedoutokay.com/017, where it is embedded… My plan is to give the video its own blog post during this month of August. Meantime, enjoy! And thank you Muttaqi – you did a great job!

Our First Q&A!

And now on to the Q&A – Jill asks: “why are my three kids awesome at swim lessons when daycare brings them, but when mommy brings them I’m practically holding their hand in the water (and that’s if they actually get in the water) – we’ve been doing swim lesson since March BTW”

We’ve all noticed this at some point in our parenting lives, haven’t we? Why do they behave incredibly well for somebody else, and freak out for us? Jill, I’m so glad you asked this question because it is such a common concern. My answer dives (pun totally intended) into my experiences with how my kids behaved when they were small at Grandma’s versus how they behaved with me – and I recorded the epilogue because, almost as soon as I hit stop recording this episode, I realized that I had been in a very similar situation to yours!

I hope you find my answer helpful, and that it helps you think of other questions to ask. I love Q&A’s, I think they’re so helpful and also they help us know we are not alone. To submit a question, you can email Karen@weturnedoutokay.com, go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, friend me on Facebook, find me on twitter@StoneAgeTechie, on instagram@weturnedoutokay… Heck, you can even snail mail me! My address is PO Box 61, Bellingham, MA, 02019.

4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

The main part of this show focuses on the four ways you can help your child cope with challenging situations. This came up because my family has been in a very challenging situation: about six weeks before this episode aired for the first time, we adopted two amazing, awesome dogs… And then the stress of caring for them caused a relapse in tendinosis, this condition that I live with that, at times, has left me unable to walk (which I’ve since relearned) and with extremely limited upper body and hand use.

Long story short, these wonderful dogs entered our lives and within a very short time, we had to give them up. Truly, it was either them or my health and sanity.

In this episode, I share about how heartbreaking and difficult this has been. But I also share about how grateful I am to have had them in our lives, and how amazed I am by the strength and gentleness of both my husband and our two boys.

Most importantly for you, I share about how we got through this. Because when you are in a tough situation and you don’t know how to help your kids get through it as well, it’s really helpful to have a guide. I hope you will think of this podcast as your guide!

Here are my four steps to coping with challenging situations, and helping your kids cope as well:

1) communicate with your kids; they WILL know that something is wrong, and consequently you will notice, if you try to keep everything from them, an uptick in bad behavior, anxiety, and tears; sharing with them what you can on their level reassures your kids and helps them trust you

2) help them understand that you are all in this together; be there for tears, questions, reassurances

3) find a way for them to help; children need to be needed, and when you give them a job – a truly meaningful job that truly helps you, however small – they become part of the solution

4) cherish the time we have with our loved ones; because challenging situations often include the absence of a person that they used to see a lot – whether through divorce, or death, or a cross-country move – it is really helpful to talk with our kids about how people come in and out of our lives; sometimes, people are not meant to be with us for long, or not without long intervals between seeing them, and the most important thing is to appreciate the time we have with our loved ones, and cherish the memory of them when we are not with them

Giving up our dogs due to my illness is one of the hardest things we’ve faced as a family. I’m sharing this experience with you today because I really hope it will help you with the challenges that inevitably come up in your life. Kids are amazingly resilient, and cope well with life’s challenges, especially when we grown-ups take the time to communicate with them, share in grief together, find meaningful ways for them to help, and above all teach them to enjoy the time we have with the people we love.