Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live with my husband and three kids in Minneapolis, MN, USA.  The headwaters of the Mississippi River are in Minnesota, but I’m from the delta – Baton Rouge, LA.  Growing up in south Louisiana was great, but it did not adequately prepare me for being the hockey mom that I am today. (My two sons play and I am still trying to learn the rules!) I have also lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Norway and Switzerland.

What language(s) do you speak?

My native language is English, but I also speak Norwegian.  I also studied French and Russian.

When did you first become a mother?

October 9, 1999.  Nine days past the due date, I might add.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

Since my oldest son was born, I have worked everything from 10 to 100% time at a fabulous non-profit called The Advocates for Human Rights. Currently, I am working 90% time as the Deputy Director.  It’s a good balance for me.  I took extended parenting leaves with each of my kids and, I have to say, being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest work I have ever done. As my husband says, we “go to work to rest.”

Why do you blog/write?

I started blogging as a New Years Resolution in January 2011. I realized that I had many stories from my experiences in fifteen years of human rights work, but most of them had never been shared. Some of these stories are about the worst aspects of human nature, but many illustrate the very best in humanity – the capacity to overcome adversity, to hope, to forgive.  As a parent, I am challenged to distill these experiences into something that my children can understand and profit from.  My goal in writing is to think more intentionally about what I’ve learned from my human rights work so that I may one day pass these lessons along to my kids.  Hopefully, these reflections will be interesting or inspiring to others as well.

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

Aside from that human rights lawyer bit? Here’s one way I’m different: most mothers send their kids away to camp but I actually go along with mine.  My summer job in college was as a counselor at Skogfjorden, the Concordia Language Villages’ Norwegian village.  For the past two summers, I have used vacation time to go back on the Skogfjorden staff for the two-week session when my sons are there.  I would say that not every mother would choose to spend her vacation this way but I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share the experience with them.  Next summer, my daughter will be 7 and will be old enough to go to camp with us, too.

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

We are trying to raise our kids without too much of the material stuff. But sometimes it’s hard for them to understand why they are the only kids they know that don’t have cable TV or Xbox 360s or iPod Touches.   Another challenge we are feeling our way through as they are getting older (our oldest is in middle school) is figuring out what movies and video games are appropriate.  I’ve found that the ratings system doesn’t always work for us. I also worry about the messages my 6-year-old daughter is already picking up from the media and other kids about body image, self-esteem, gender roles.

How did you find World Moms Blog?

A friend put me in touch with Thirdeyemom, another World Moms Blog writer who lives in Minneapolis.  She’s become my blogging guru.  I’m excited to be working with her and others in the World Moms community on the new human rights feature.

This is an original, first-time post from our new US writer Jennifer Prestholdt. Keep an eye out for Jennifer’s upcoming regular Human Rights column right here on World Moms Blog.

The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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