Accepting children the way they are. It sounds normal. It’s what love is all about: accepting others. We are all different and we recognize that our differences are a real chance.
But when it comes to our kids, we tend to have dreams for them; we tend to wish them to be more extrovert than we were, more independent, to be less frightened, less worried than us. We are trying our best to tell them all about confidence and how important it is to share, care, how nice it is to have friends or not to be afraid of others, strangers.
When they fit our expectations, it feels so good. We are the first ones to congratulate ourselves on how good we are at educating them. When they don’t, we start asking ourselves, “what’s wrong?” We start feeling that we are not good enough and put a lot of pressure on us and on them. We want them to fit in, to be like others. It’s so easy.
We do forget easily that kids are independent beings. Just like us. They are who they are, not to make us happy or make us sad. They are unique. Just like us.
I came up with these thoughts around the summer. I got to spend some time with my son. And I used this time wisely, looking at him and understanding many things. He is the kind of child who studies his surroundings a lot. He needs time to let go of my hand when we are with other people. He’d rather like watching a game than being part of it. We can spend hours together at the bus stop, looking at the buses coming and going.
When I was a little girl, I lived in a bubble, one I had created to protect myself from the rest of the world. I was a silent kid, happy, but yet, I felt awkward most of the time. I suffered from it. And obviously, I’d never want my son to deal with the same issues I had. Like other parents, I want to protect him and give him the best to face life in a positive way.
I pushed him and put a lot of pressure on him over the past couple of months to get him to be the way I wanted him to be, thinking that it was the only way for him to find his place in the world. I compared him a lot with other “3 years old” kids. We fought a lot, over things that don’t matter that much.
I feel now more ready to just let him be. And accept that in some situations he may not act the way I’d expect him to.
How is it for you? How do you manage your kids differences?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog written by Marie in France.
Last weekend I was away visiting some friends in the South of France. While we were talking about how hard it can be to raise kids, we realized that whatever we do, we’ll always have to face criticism, whether it is from family members, friends with kids or other parents around. People have an idea about everything. And when it comes to parenting or motherhood, they think that they must share what they think about this or that. Without even being asked to do so.
When it happens, we tend to feel like we are the worst mums ever. We’re not doing things the way we should do them. Others seem to know better. It’s very easy to get depressed, to cry and go straight to the first doctor we know to empty our hearts full of negativity and stress.
What if the others weren’t wrong, just different?
We all have our ideas on how we wish to raise our kids, what values we wish to pass on to them, on how well it feels for us to deliver a specific message. There are no rules, except the ones everybody knows, that say we have to take care of our kids and respect their needs, respect who they are and help them grow. The way we do it belongs to us. And most of the time we do the best we can with what we have, what we have been taught, what we have learnt on the way – what we feel inside our hearts.
In France nowadays we hear a lot about attachment parenting (éducation bienveillante). The idea is brilliant. But in reality, it’s not THAT easy to put into place. For some parents it’s fine and it works perfectly with their kids, for others it does not fit in their world. They can try for hours and days, without seeing any results. Does this mean they are bad parents? Does this mean others have the right to judge them and put a red sticker on their faces?
I don’t think so.
At the end of the day, we want the same thing: to raise happy, healthy and confident children. In order to do so, I think we ought to help each other and accept that one approach is not better than another one. When asked, we can share our ideas. When not, why create more mess in the head of parents who already feel overwhelmed by the task at hand?
How do you welcome negative criticism about the way you are raising your kids?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Marie Kleber in France.
Over the past few years, I realized that it was important for me to get to know who I am, to love myself (without condition), to create my space, to find some “me” time so I could deal with motherhood, work and daily life, peacefully and with an open heart. This way, I could give my full attention to my child whenever we have time together, or to my friends and family. By taking care of myself, I would surely take better care of the people around me.
And by falling in love with myself, I would allow love into my life, the kind of true and respectful love I deserve.
I’ve always been the first to tell family and friends, “think about you” or “you are important, you need to look after yourself”, “take some time away, it’s good for you and for your kids, your husband….” That’s it: I give good advice when it comes to others. It’s another story when I am concerned.
I have to acknowledge that I have a tough time finding my balance between my life as a mum, my life at home with my parents, my personal life including meeting friends and creating new relationships, writing and relaxing. I feel like it’s too much for me. In fact, I spent the last three years focusing on my child and my family, without even thinking that I was part of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I was the first one saying that I needed time for myself, but I was not taking it. I was the first one trying to meet new people, without catching opportunities. I was the first one feeling that I needed to make the first step towards time for myself, but taking guilt in my handbag every time I was about to cross the line between motherhood and womanhood!
This year I told myself that I must do something about it. My life can’t change if I just sit down, wait and see. I am in charge of making it work, one way or another.
I must change the way I feel and think about taking time for myself. I can’t find the balance if I don’t give myself a chance to test what it’s like to be fully with my child, fully with dear ones, and fully with me.
I know that it won’t happen overnight. It’s a step by step project. But I refuse to let life pass and forget me once again. I matter as much as others do. I don’t say that it’s going to be easy. But I don’t want to feel once again what I felt a few months ago: being exhausted, on the edge, shouting every time something did not go according to plan. I don’t want to spend my life feeling bad and feeling guilty for feeling bad. I need to take action. Where to start? I don’t have a clue.
I am on the way to a better life as a mum and a woman.
Tell me, did you find your balance yet? Did it take time? Any advice or tips to share? Or are you, like me, still searching for it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber. Picture: The Kerry Files.
I think it’s important when raising a bi-cultural child to find a balance between both the mother’s and the father’s upbringing and cultural backgrounds. The truth is, it’s not always that simple. As a single mom who is raising a Half-French, Half-Egyptian boy, I can say it’s quite tricky most of the time. My son’s father is not very involved in his life. He is around, but Skype chats are not the best way to establish a peaceful and steady relationship while teaching a young child about a far-away culture.
I decided that I could be the one talking about this other part of who he is. We started with a small photo book that I built from photos that I took on a trip when we were still married, showing the country, the village where his dad grew up, his dad’s family members and some nice spots around. Whenever he wants, he can ask me to have a look at it.
We have other resources at home, such as books and songs. I don’t speak Arabic but I know a couple of words, so we learn them together.
As he is growing up, I am keen for my bi-cultural child to know the culture from another perspective: the food and tastes of Egypt, the colors, the history, the way people are living, and how they are different from us.
For this, Internet is of great help.
When it comes to religion, I use books. I am interested in religion in general and I’d like my son to learn more about it. As his dad and I could not agree on anything, I decided not to give my son any religion. He will choose later. Still, we are talking about it, about Islam and Christianity.
As a matter of fact, I wanted to take him with me to Egypt, but right now things are too hectic and crazy with his dad. So I made a long-term plan to go to Egypt with him, when he’ll be old enough to travel without any worry.
Some days I would love to have somebody to do this for me, somebody I could rely on when I don’t have answers to some of his questions, as I have my part to deal with too. I have to be careful not to overdo things and accept that sometime my child does not want to hear about his dad and his dad’s story.
But I have to say it’s a relief that I don’t resent the culture and the man. It is helping my boy to know about his roots, the roots that will help him grow stronger and understand that our world differences are a chance.
And you? Tell me, how are you teaching your bi-cultural child about cultural differences?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kléber of France. Photo credit to the author.
…and prevention is protection.
Now-a-days, we hear a lot about violence. Violence at home, bullying at school, harassment at work or on the street. Violence is everywhere. It does not define our societies or who we are but it plays an important role in our evolution and how we decide to define ourselves.
In the past couple of years, the French government put into place important measures to fight all types of violence, creating adds to show its impact on peoples lives, opening more helplines, dedicated centres to welcome the victims, creating new jobs and training programs. Many well-known artists took it over and started campaigns around the country and in the world.
Still, I think something is missing in order, if not to eradicate violence completely, at least to change the vision of men and women on the subject and prevent violence from spreading even more. Before discussing the impact of violence, people first have to be educated on what violence is, how to spot it and how to protect themselves from it.
We tend to think that violence is only physical. Is it something we learn as kids? Or are the other forms of violence too cruel to be true?
I met women who kept telling me that in their case, it was not violence. I met kids who kept telling me that other kids were just laughing at them, no big deal. I met men who kept telling me that if their bosses were that mean towards them, it was maybe because they were not that good.
If people don’t know or understand that the relationship they are in is poison, they won’t be able to get out of it or ask for help. And it will keep destroying them. Ads or campaigns won’t have any impact on their life. They will still think violence is horrible but they will think it has nothing to do with them.
I suppose we have to educate people from a young age. Maybe school is the first place to start, as violence can take root there for many. Teaching kids about respect and differences. Teaching them about what is not allowed, about their body and about the importance of equality. Boys are not better than girls and girls are not better than boys.
But first, we have to teach kids about confidence. In most cases, it’s the lack of confidence that takes people down. Teaching kids that they are important, that they are valued and loved, that they are worth it, beautiful, enough. I think this is crucial and it can change many things in our world these days.
I don’t say that confident people can’t be touched by violence, but they’ll have the resources, the power to face it and say stop to it. Or they’ll know something is wrong in the equation and they’ll be able to talk about it, to raise their voice.
Because, at the end of the day, silence is really the enemy, silence is what allows violence to thrive.
This is an original post from our contributor in France, Marie Kleber.
The image used in this post is attributed to Cyber Magic. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.