Parenting: Discipline Part I

I told you awhile back that I practice positive parenting. Positive parenting basically means that I embrace positive discipline. That I listen to Munch and don’t physically spank or lay hands on him. Now, this is new age in my family who believes in spare the rod and spoil the child, but I am an advocate for allowing Munch to understand that his choices will have negative or positive consequences, but he needs to understand that.

I treat discipline as a teaching opportunity instead of a physical task of spanking. Pretty much everything becomes about examining the issues, understand why the behavior occurred, making you accountable and still providing love, hugs and kisses. I know this may seem like with craft to some folks, but I don’t believe that you have to go around spanking children to correct their behavior.

Positive parenting tries to strengthen the parent/child bond by creating a more affectionate relationship. This works with Munch. He is a hugger and loves to be hugged, petted (LOL, his words) and encouraged. However, it’s not always easy.

Last Friday night, I got this email from Munch’s teacher:

I wanted to let you both know that Brennan had a problem in English class today. He had a discussion with a classmate about the biography book report. This is my knowledge of the situation. Brennan and the classmate were discussing who they were reading about. When Brennan heard the boy was reading about the life of a white person (students can choose anyone) he told the student he had to read about a black person. The student then called Brennan a racist. The boys both raised their voices and argued. Brennan was yelling I am not a racist. I was teaching, standing in front of the class and immediately raised my voice in order to be heard, and stopped the argument, reprimanded them both and moved Brennan from that table. I reprimanded the boy and we had a mini class discussion about racism. I told them that I was upset with them both for not stopping when I asked. At the end of class I met with the boys. The 1 student said he was at fault, said he should not have said that and admitted to inciting Brennan. Brennan said, right, I was wrong, too. I complimented him for being mature and respectful. But then he immediately told me, I’m being sarcastic, and continued to say he did nothing wrong. I tried to convey the idea that yes, the boy was wrong, but you were rude and disrespectful to me as I was trying to resolve the problem. I felt I had taken the time to discuss and reprimand the boy, in front of the entire class about his name calling. But Brennan was still defiant and defensive about my correction of him. I had a class coming in and no time to continue our discussion. I sent him to class but it was unresolved. I wanted to advise you of the incident. Please let me know if you have any questions.  Mrs. B

Yeah, it was rough. Basically my son told the teacher that he was being sarcastic with his apology as she was complimenting him. Huh? Where does that happen? I was mortified. I really like his teacher. She’s phenomenal and just a good human being. I trust her.

Now the question became how do I approach Munch with this positive parenting? See, I knew that my mom would have smacked my mouth for being disobedient. Positive parenting doesn’t allow for spanking. I needed to teach Munch a lesson. I needed him to see how he was wrong and needed to apologize, but I had to make sure that he understood the rules/expectations of self-control.

Could I do this? Was I ready? The challenges were only going to get bigger. I knew how I handled this would set the precedent for future parenting discipline moments. The key was to teach him, not to break him.

-To Be Continued –

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Parenting Lesson: I Will Not Chase You

Munch is the best thing that ever happened to me. But, sometimes I really feel like I’m sucking at this parenting thing. Not that I’m mean, but sometimes I have to teach him a lesson and I wonder if my teaching those lessons are having an adverse effect on him.

Last month we were working on homework and then we were going to review his oral presentation. He had to memorize a poem. He chose “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It was awesome, but he wasn’t in the mood. When he’s not in the mood to do anything, he pretty much shuts down. He acts like he’s bored and it’s really like time consuming and emotionally draining.

That being said I decided to push forward and chastise and ignore his negative attitude. I wanted to record him saying his poem. He was nonchalant and had no emotion. He was literally just acting like I’m forcing him to plow the field. It was draining. I had enough. I said “I love you Munch, but I’m done. I’m reclaiming my peace and you’re going to bed. Go upstairs and get your shower so you can get in the bed.” He was upset. “What about TV time?” I said “It’s not going to happen. You’ve tried my patience this evening with your behavior so TV is a reward that you don’t deserve this evening.” He cried.

Cried in the shower. Cried when he went to bed and then cried himself to sleep. Even when I tried to tuck him in bed and give him his kiss good night he cried louder and turned away from me. No problem. “I love you and goodnight” was all that I said.

I spoke to Mr. C and he listened and then commented how our parenting styles are different. I know. He’s told me before. I’m used to getting spanked as a child if I cried for no reason, but I left him to cry it out.

The next morning I did what I always do…cook his breakfast, pack his lunch, lay out his clothes and make up his bed. He then comes upstairs and criticizes me for all that I’ve done. “You’re not letting me do anything by myself. My daddy says that I need to do things on my own” he stated in frustration. I smiled sweetly and said “Love, you know what?” I don’t have to fix your breakfast each morning. I can sleep later and you can get up and fix yourself a bowl of cereal. It has always been important for me to send you to school with a hot breakfast each morning, but you want more responsibility so tomorrow, you got it. You can make your own bed and pick out your own clothes and fix your own lunch. I’m fine with it all. Now get dressed please.”

I was peeved. I couldn’t believe this child being defiant and first thing in the morning. I asked God for strength and we exited out the house headed for school. Munch didn’t speak to me at all. Ignored me on the whole car ride. I blasted gospel music to shift my mind and hopefully his too.

We exit and go into the school and as I’m signing him in for Before Care he doesn’t speak to the teachers when they say good morning. He walks away from me and is still ignoring me. I sigh. I said “Good morning” to the teachers, signed him and left. Five minutes later my phone rings and it is the Director of the Before and After Care program. She says how Munch had a breakdown and started crying because I just left.

She said that Munch said “She didn’t kiss me goodbye and she didn’t tell me that she loves me and to have a good day.” She said that they couldn’t console him. She asked could I speak to him. “Yes” I responded. He gets on the phone crying “Mommy, you didn’t tell me you love me. You didn’t kiss me goodbye.” I said “Munch, I realized that you were frustrated when you complained first thing this morning, I realized that you were still angry when you didn’t speak to me in the car ride over. I knew you weren’t over it when you walked away from me and ignored the teachers this morning. I accepted that. I love you so much but I will never chase anyone including you. My love is always given freely but I won’t chase someone to force it on them and this includes you. I love you more than life itself and will always love you. I love you more than you’ll ever know so have a great day.” He said “Okay, I love you too mommy.”  We got off the phone.

This parenting thing is hard. I struggle some days and find peace with my choices on most. But, in the end I’m still a work in progress learning and loving this beautiful boy that I’ve been blessed with.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

The Harsh Truth About Spanking – Part 2

In yesterday’s post I talked about how spanking is one form of discipline, but that is one form that we need to get away from. Discipline takes many different forms and you can discipline without spanking. It is possible. There are no statistics that support that spanking makes children better than those who were not spanked. In reality, when spanking leaves a mark it now goes into abuse. Do you want to take that chance?

This is what happened to Tyrese. It wasn’t about men and women. It wasn’t about a bitter ex trying to keep him from his child. It was about a parenting choice to spank your child. A choice about whether or not corporal punishment was better than using the situation as a teachable moment.

I met a young woman in college who grew up in a military family. Her dad was a major in the Army. She said that she had a sister and her dad never hit them. She said that when they got in trouble, he made them do drills. She said that she would have to awaken at 5 a.m. and go on 2 mile runs with her dad and do 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups. She was exhausted. She said that she never wanted to get in trouble because she didn’t want to  do exercise.

That was the first time that I had met someone that was black that hadn’t been subjected to a belt, a switch, a shoe, etc. This was a different way of parenting. Was it better or worse than a spanking? I wasn’t sure, but it was something that was totally different than what I had experienced.

Now, the basis of positive parenting involves the shift in being both positive and authentic with our children. That’s what I discovered a couple of years ago. Munch’s attitude was always so negative. So, I tried to redirect. I decided to find ways to communicate with my child that didn’t involve lashing out and spanking.

Am I perfect? No, I’m not. I haven’t mastered it all. I have lashed out to Munch out of frustration. Remember last year when I talked about it in my post Mommy Meltdown? I talked about how I had cursed at my son. I felt horrible. I cried. What was wrong with me? I felt like I was taking a huge step back.

Many people assured me that they’ve had breakdowns too. Forgive yourself they instructed. I did. But, I also owed Munch an apology. I was leading him by example and I wanted him to know that I was wrong. That I should not have lashed out at him or cursed at him.

This was something I never experienced growing up. But, parents should apologize when they make mistakes. How could I expect him to apologize for his actions if I couldn’t do it? We hugged and talked and after a while the pain of feeling like I failed him dissolved.

Positive parenting involves a commitment to approaching your children with love, kindness and being authentic. You approach it as a way to teach your children without the fear of punitive damages. I admit it was hard for me to get my head around it at first. Why? Because what about “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Was I going to do more harm by respecting, leading and redirecting negative behaviors than not hitting him?

No.

When I learned that more than anything in this world that I wanted my son to grow up knowing that his mother’s hands were those of love and not violence then it was easy to make the shift. I wanted my son to want to learn and understand without me lashing out or spanking him. I changed my tactics.

I’ve never looked back. I don’t see spanking as a way to teach a lesson. I went to college, I have a degree and I liked to think that I have some common sense too. I see the benefits of creating an environment where Munch is respected and can learn in love. Where he sees that we all have bad days, but ultimately we are accountable for our actions.

To that point, I disagree with spanking in general. I disagree with Tyrese spanking his daughter. It isn’t necessary. He now has his 50/50 custody back with a court appointed clinical psychologist as a monitor until June 2018 and has to go to parenting classes and neither him or his ex can use corporal punishment on their daughter. But, why did it take a judge telling him this? Let’s find a better way of teaching our children’s lessons without resorting to physical punishment.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Day 13: My Parents

I have to tell you that my family is dysfunctional. My parents were kids when I was born. They didn’t know what they hell they were doing. They made many mistakes. I hated them both at different points in my life.

But, I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for their DNA and for their ability to raise happy and healthy children despite a whole host of issues. Even though I struggle with my feelings towards my dad, I know that I wouldn’t exist without him. I see parts of him in my attitude and behavior. I am thankful for him.

I have a lot of my mom in me. I am my mother’s child. I realized that the things that I was telling my son she had said to me. Words and phrases that were interspersed into teachable moments. She really has grown on me and her and Munch are super close now. I am thankful for her.

I am thankful for the struggles and strength of my parents. It is never easy raising children. You do the best you can and hope that you don’t mess them up. They did. Individually. I understand that now.

It’s not about being a perfect parent. That’s impossible. Just be there. That’s half the job of parenting. Love and be there for your children. No matter how messed up you think your life is, your children need you. The real you.  It is Day 13 and I’m thankful for my parents in my #23daysofthankfulness.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

The Truth About Co-Parenting

I’m in a lot of groups on co-parenting, taking co-parenting classes and reading everything under the sun to learn how to co-parent. Is it working? Umm, not yet. But, that is not to say that I’ve given up. I’m prayerful that God is working it out.

I understand that most co-parenting situations take 5 to 7 years to work out and that will put Munch between 13 to 15. Okay, whatever! It takes a village and I’m okay with that. However, one of the things that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot lately is the concern that step moms have that the birth mom’s hate them.

Let me pause and offer my two cents on this belief. This is not true in all cases. If you broke up a home through infidelity, then the birth mother may hate you. But, you should know that. If you didn’t and you both just moved on with your lives and met and married new people then I’m sure that the birth mother doesn’t hate you.

Neither do the kids. They just need to get to know you. The thing is that you fall in love with the man not knowing the history of what he did to that woman or vice versa.  As much as everyone would like to place the foolishness on the birth mom’s shoulder I invite you to take a step back and look at it from another point of view.

As a birth mom to only one child, I only want the best for my child. I believe that his dad wants the best for him. If I don’t know you then how can I know what you want with our son? Does that make you a bad person? Nope, not at all. But, that doesn’t meant that I like you or hate you. I don’t know you.

Does that mean that I’m jealous of you? Not at all. Again, I don’t know you. I don’t trust people I don’t know. Do you trust people that you don’t know? Probably not. It means that we are starting at a point of figuring each other out. We are not sitting here creating voodoo dolls of you and wishing bad things on you. We have a life. We have a child or children. We may have careers.

Every relationship whether friend or intimate has boundaries. When you are getting to know someone intimately they are learning your boundaries and you are learning theirs. When do you learn the birth mother’s boundaries? Do you believe there are boundaries? Do you care?

If not, then think about the relationship that you are creating with those boundaries. When we don’t respect boundaries from the birth parents and do what they heck we want in the name of love, then you will be met with resistance and anger. Probably both. Issues from the marriage or relationship carry over into co-parenting when boundaries aren’t respected. Both men and women are guilty of this.  This doesn’t mean that the woman is bitter or jealous of you. You just crossed her boundary.

Let me give you an example, maybe the ex gave her a sexually transmitted disease (STD), was violent to her, stole from her, etc. Maybe the man didn’t want the child to begin with and now wants to be father of the year with you on his arms. Who knows? You only know his side of the story.  The one that your new partner told you. Maybe the issues are deeper than you want to admit. There are many reasons relationships fail.

And when they do fail, what remains is that there are two parents that have a child to care for. Two. Mom and dad. The parents who created the child, carried the child and the mother who birthed the child left to figure out how to raise this little human being without emotionally stunting him/her. Their children will be raised in two homes, with two different parenting styles and two people who love them immensely. Does that mean that you can’t be a partner in the child’s life with your new man or woman? Not at all.

It just means that you have to recognize that their are other participants in this co-parenting relationship. The parents. Both parents. They need to work together for their child. It may be a lot of residual issues, but your job is not get involved in the BS. To respect the boundaries and love and be a supporting partner to your significant other and a supporter of the child.

Children need the love and support of their parents. If more parents are added to the mix, that’s more love to go around. Their village will expand. Birth mothers don’t go around hating their exe’s new partner. If you’re feeling hated, ask yourself whether or not you did anything to overstep your boundaries. Talk it out.

This is not a birth mother vs. step mother reality. Women have to stop being pitted against each other. We are our sister keeper’s. We are all part of the village.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Child Support: My Story

The issue of child support is a touchy one. This will be a three part issue. The first part will be my story, the second will be a man’s story and the third will be a woman’s story. I’m going to explore multiple sides about the importance of child support and give you truth here. This may be a trigger post for some of you. So, if it is, please stay off my page with your drama. I am all about trying to equalize the argument for the benefits for financially supporting your children.

Many people see child support as a bad thing. It’s deemed the devil because many states require a man to pay 1/3 or more of his salary supporting a “lazy momma” while being denied visitation or being forced to work multiple jobs to even live.  Others see it as the only way to make a man financially responsible for his child while checking out emotionally. It is a vicious cycle and in reality there are some truths to both sides. Let’s discuss the reality.

In reality, children require more than just love to grow into healthy adults. It takes money. Can your child live without clothes, medical, dental, food or shelter? Nope.

Okay, good. Now, before you start saying that I’m pro the destruction of the man, stop it. I’m not. Women who don’t raise their children should also pay child support. I believe that everyone has a financial responsibility for their children.

For the record, I don’t get nor have I ever filed child support against my ex-husband. He doesn’t get it either. In fact, we agreed that we would equally split expenses for our son. So, I have no “skin” in the game to protect any financial support you think I may be getting.

Now, the difference between me and some other women is that I can afford to take care of my son without his father’s help. It’s not a bad thing. It’s reality. I’ve been blessed to have a great career that allows me both the financial and emotional means to be present for my son. However, I recognize that not everyone can say that they are as fortunate. Some women and men actually need the financial support of the other parent.

 

When I was growing up, my dad was ordered to pay $200 a month in child support for three kids. Yes, I said that right – three kids. Ask me how many checks we received?

Zero.

Not one.

My dad lived his life getting paid under the table. He avoided paying child support like it was a contagious disease. He refused to catch it.

Did he feel bad? In my opinion no. Anyone that avoids the financial support of their child doesn’t have a conscious. Therefore, they can’t feel bad for not doing for their child. Combine that with the fact that he lived in another state and didn’t see us and you have the trifecta of a poor example as a father.

He was not present. Financially, emotionally, spiritually or any form or fashion. We were a non-factor in his life. The life he lived in avoidance.

So, I watched my mother struggle. Struggle to put clothes on our back and food on our table. Struggle to work multiple jobs and go to school so she could provide a better life for us.

I imagined that the better life she was working on would provide better clothes, better shoes and more of an opportunity to have her present. See, when a person doesn’t take care of their children, it leaves the other parent to take care of the slack. But, it took two people to create that child. How come one person gets to slack on their responsibility?

 

Because of that hard life of learning to survive in spite of my circumstances, I worked hard. I didn’t want children. I wouldn’t bring a child into this world without being able to support them on my own. I would never give anyone that power to determine the fate of my child/children.

I would be better than that.

And I did. I worked hard to get my career off the ground. Even when my marriage ended and I had to re-shift my focus, it became about the most important asset in my life. My Munch. He was more important than any job or my career. I needed him to know that.

So, I spoke up. I told my employers during the interview stage that I am a mom first. That it is just me and that I will always be there for my son. I won’t miss school plays, programs or games. I will be present on the first day of school and every day thereafter. I only have him for a short time before he is released into the world, hopefully making it a better place.

My responsibilities were to my son first.  My employers understood. They respected my decision. So, I continued to rise in my career without sacrificing because I was a mother. I have been very fortunate to have that.

Even this summer when I had to adjust my schedule to get my son to and from camp. I called on my village and they helped out. My supervisor understood that I had camp that started at 9 am and there was no before care. I didn’t get to work until 9:45 am. My mother went in early and took off to pick up Munch from camp at 3pm.

I take off to take him to doctor’s appointments, to volunteer in his school, attend his programs (like the art camp) or if he’s sick. My supervisor allows flexibility because it’s just me. I need it. My mother didn’t have that. She had me.

I missed school if my siblings were sick. She had to work. We had to take care of each other.

I’m not ignorant to the fact that Munch has the best of both worlds…a mother that can afford to provide and a mother that is present. This is in direct contrast with what I experienced, but experience taught me. I chose to be a mother and I chose to have a career and thankfully I am able to have them both.

The lack of child support or financial means pushed me to work harder and become more determined to not be another statistic. We needed the financial support from my dad, but we lived and thrived in spite of. No one should ever have to be in that position.

-Part 2: His View On Child Support is Next-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.