I Love My Child. I Love My Child…

“I love my child. I love my child. I love my child.”

Seriously, I do love my child, but sometimes I have to remind myself in the heat of the moment. For example, right now my daughter is in this phase where she stands at my feet screaming while I try to cook supper. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the kitchen for three minutes or thirty, I can count on her to find me and whine “Momma, Momma, up, up, up!” and then proceed to cry when I can’t hold her while simultaneously cooking on the stove. It can be seriously crazy-making. (I think the part that makes me craziest is that she doesn’t do it to my husband when he cooks supper!).

But here’s the thing – I know she is doing it because she wants to be with her momma. I know her behavior is worse than usual right before supper time because she is hungry. I also know there might come a day when she is older that she doesn’t want to be with her mom all the time. I KNOW all of those things, and yet in the heat of the moment in front of the stove I’m tempted to lose my cool (again). I hear my voice go from “hey silly goose, can you go play with your blocks for a little bit?” to calling to my husband to “get her out of here” much quicker than I’d like to admit…. Sometimes I’m proud of how well I do during these moments in the kitchen, and other times I wish my patience had lasted a bit longer for me. But one thing that is consistent – every time I choose to Stop. Breathe. Talk. instead of go with my first reaction, I do better. Sometimes I remember to pause and take a deep breath right away when I start to feel frustrated, and other times I don’t remember until I’ve already gotten more irritated than I should have. But it doesn’t matter how far into the situation I am – when I take that extra moment to think about what I want to say and how I want this interaction with my child to go, I know it helps me be a more effective and responsive parent.

 “I love my child. I love my child. I love my child”.

Seriously, we do love our children, and sometimes we say this phrase to ourselves because we are beaming with pride or soaking in a sweet moment – like watching your child take their first steps, or having a warm conversation with your teenager, or hearing your school-age kiddo was kind to someone. These amazing moments help make up for the not-so-good ones. But the reality is that the journey of being a parent is a mixture of amazing moments with challenging ones sprinkled in between. Maybe your challenging moments look like mine where your child is really testing your patience and you are about to lose your cool (or already started to). Or maybe your moment is something bigger like navigating your new role as a stepparent or responding to your child being bullied.

Whether your challenging moment is one where you forget to think or one where you’re thinking a lot, Science of Parenting wants to help. We believe that you love your kids and want to do what is best for them, so we want to help you find trustworthy information that is based in research so that you can know what you are doing is helping your child. If you are experiencing a challenging moment, go take a peek at our Parenting in Challenging Moments page to see what the research might say about what you’re experiencing.

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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More than half of us have had ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’

This week we welcome our guest blogger Kristi Cooper, Human Sciences Family Life Specialist.

Sunday Dinner at Grandma’s

I love this quote from the program “Lemonade for Life” – “You can’t rewrite the beginning of your story but you can change how it ends.”

Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) affect a child’s neurological, social-emotional and cognitive development. ACES may eventually manifest in chronic health conditions in adulthood.

I’m part of the 55% of Iowans who have more than one ACE. When I think of the chaotic times in my childhood, I’m grateful for the touch points that kept me ‘on track’. The research on Adverse Childhood Experiences tells us these touch points are called resiliency factors. These resiliency factors include individual capabilities, attachment and belonging with caring competent people and a protective community, faith or cultural process. Let me share a few of these touchpoints from my own life and maybe you can see how resilience can be woven through the fabric of our lives.

I am grateful for the elementary school nurse who never questioned my stomach aches and always had clean dry clothes for me to wear when I had an ‘accident’. I’m grateful for my 3rd grade teacher’s calm, caring approach and the interesting hands-on projects she had us do. She introduced me to creative writing which became an outlet for me whenever I felt life was overwhelming. I’m grateful for my grandmothers who loved me unconditionally and were always interested in me. I’m grateful for the routine of Sunday church followed by dinner at Grandma’s house with its comfort food, safety, hugs and laughter. All of these helped me feel normal and sane when life felt scary.

Spending time outdoors with cousins was an important touchpoint for me. Our many adventures catching tadpoles and crawdads, jumping the bogs in the pasture, riding bikes for miles, building snow forts and climbing in the empty corncrib took my mind away from the hurtful times. Music was another touchpoint for me. I saved my 4-H and birthday money and bought a guitar. With the creative writing gift from Miss Ihnen and my new instrument, I made it through a few more turbulent years.

All of these touchpoints helped to reset my stress response – all it takes is a 20 minute activity to reduce heart rate, regulate breathing again and re-focus the mind. As an adult I use meditation, yoga, journaling and sewing projects to reduce anxiety, keep depression away and help my mind think clearly. I have a therapist I consult when I need to sort things out. I’ve used my early experiences to change how I parented my children, hopefully, changing the course of my grandchildren’s lives. These individual resiliency practices combined with positive social relationships and trauma informed community resources help heal the impact of adverse childhood experiences and to reduce the impact of traumatic events.

What are the touchpoints that help(ed) you survive and thrive?

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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Who Gets the Kids for the Summer?

School is out and now the summer fun begins. But if the kids have two homes, it might not be so much fun. There may be family vacations and family reunions and softball/baseball games and 4-H events and camps and – well you get the idea.

So who decides where the kids will be? Last weekend I was at a baseball game and heard a dad talking about vacations. His family, with kids from different marriages, had a summer trip planned. Then he found out one child’s mom had other plans and her wishes ruled. This sounded like the beginning of vacation wars and not the fun that all had in mind.

Well parents, it’s time to revisit the concept of co-parenting. Now is the time to sit down and talk with your child’s other parent about summer plans. Get out the calendar and pencil in all the events that involve your child. Go into the conversation with the idea of making this work. Share any “absolute” dates and explain why you want your child for that time. Be willing to compromise and not insist on your way for everything. Offer to take your child more frequently or be the “taxi” on occasion.

I know you’re probably thinking – “but you don’t know my ex.” And I don’t! But I do know that kids want to enjoy the summer. They want to spend time with both parents and the extended families. They want to hang out with their friends. They want to just “be” and not find themselves in the middle of arguments over who gets them when.

How do you plan summer schedules when two households are involved? What’s worked for your family?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Storms of life…

A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.

In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).

In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?

What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?

Here’s a great E-xtension Article – Coping with Stress

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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The Other Parent

When I was growing up, I don’t remember hearing much about divorce. I had one friend in high school whose parents were divorced, but it was never mentioned. Fast forward to years later and you guessed it – I married a divorced man with three young children. So I’ve had the first hand opportunity to see the “after divorce” world from both a personal and professional perspective.

The podcast started with the statement about divorce not being one point in time, but is ongoing. And I say, no truer words could be said. When children are involved, the divorce may end the marriage but the relationships and interactions continue literally for a lifetime.

If you’re a parent in the midst of a divorce, or are raising children after a divorce, how do you make it work? I latched on to the phrase – paths to healthy outcomes – and how there are two that work. Most everything else leads to negative outcomes. Those paths are divorced parents working together as warm co-parents or as professional co-parents.

Here’s my take on how professional co-parents work. The adults don’t’ have to be friends but their priority is to do what is best for the kids. They may not agree on how to raise their kids, but they manage to keep conflict under control. These parents try to share decisions and child rearing tasks. Although there is a custody agreement, the parents apply some flexibility and common sense. The professional co-parents see that both parents have a relationship with their kids.

As I look back, I realize our family functioned with professional co-parents (most of the time). No one will tell you it is an easy way to parent. However, the payoff for the kids is tremendous. The stress of the divorce is reduced; children have fewer long-term problems; and they can develop close relationships with both parents and extended family members.

Anyone want to share ideas that work for professional co-parents?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Children and Divorce

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this month’s blog I would highly encourage it. I have placed below a great resource from the eXtension website. Stay tuned for more conversations the rest of this month.

Parenting During and After Divorce

Parents help children adjust to divorce better when they show respect for the fact that the child is now a member of two families.

Parenting through and after divorce is different than parenting when both adults are in the home. Normal parenting challenges become harder during this time. Life is thrown out of balance. Parents and children may experience feelings of stress, loss, guilt, and/or anger. Most family members overcome this stressful event, but the process takes time.

Parenting Behaviors that Help and Hurt

Making the transition through divorce is easier for the child when parents look at things through the child’s eyes. It’s important to remember that the child is now a member of two families.

Children do better when they are able to maintain their relationships with both parents (when it is safe for them to do so).

Children whose parents have a lot of conflict after the divorce have the hardest time. Parents can support their children best by keeping their arguments private, away from where children can hear them. This includes phone conversations.
Experiencing negative emotions about the other parent is normal. But it’s important to avoid making negative comments about the other parent in front of the child. Children often feel a negative comment about the other parent reflects on them. After all, half of their DNA is from that parent! If a parent needs to vent, a good strategy is to seek support from another understanding adult.

For the rest of the article… http://www.extension.org/pages/27654/parenting-during-and-after-divorce

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Episode 15: After Divorce

How parents handle their divorce affects how well their children will adapt to life with mom and life with dad. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach examines what parents can do to help their children live through divorce.

ISU Extension publications

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Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

More Posts

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