BELGIUM : Parenting – Keeping Them Close

BELGIUM : Parenting – Keeping Them Close

Close_K10KTimes are confusing for a parent. Library shelves are filled with parenting guides. Tips and tricks for the perfect reward system are stacked next to the rant on why keeping rewards from a kid is essentially the same as punishing him or her. Online you can find the benefits of co-sleeping a click away from co-sleeping horror stories. Natural parenting blogs are hijacked by those who think kids these days just need more discipline.

I’ve read a lot of those books, blogs and papers. Some in despair, some out of curiosity and some even at the request of my son’s psychologist or as optional literature while preparing for the adoption of our daughter.

Did I get any wiser? Yes I did. But not necessarily in the ways the books and blogs were meant. At first I just concluded that the parenting style you adapt should be customized, to you and to your child. I took some advice from one book and integrated it in a style I found on a blog. It worked, for a while.

But still the situation left me puzzled. Why do we need all this in the first place? Why do I know so many children who regularly see therapists? Why do parents feel like they lack the parenting skills that should come naturally to them?

I for one don’t think that we as parents have all suddenly been deprived of the parenting skills our grandparents had. And I refuse to believe that more children are born with or develop disorders these days.

So if it’s not the parents and not the children, what causes us parents to feel like we are failing and need help?

I hope you don’t expect me to have the answer. I’m only another struggling mother. My six-year-old throws toddler tantrums when I talk to other grown-ups and thinks just about everything is either boooooring or unfair. My eight-year-old gets frustrated and even aggressive over one math mistake while all other 49 exercises are correct. These are the small issues we have on a daily basis. I won’t go into the big ones.

The only answer I have found for myself is that the way my children react to me depends highly on the state of our relationship at that point. Because we’ve been taught in our adoption course about the need for attachment between parent and adopted child, we tend to invest a lot of time in one-on-one time with our daughter. To keep the balance, we do the same with our biological son. To me, this is the only approach which has worked for both of my very different kids, and which keeps on working whenever we invest time in it. Yesterday I had some lovely one-on-one time with my daughter at the lake and today, nothing is boring to her. She doesn’t disobey, she’s helpful and polite. My son, on the other hand, will go to an amusement park with friends today. I know for a fact that he will be unbearable tonight, unless I keep him very close from the moment he’s back.

So is that it? Is keeping your children close the answer? Is it not the parents nor the children that have changed over the last decades, but their relationship?

Honestly, I don’t know. It might. The changing relationship between parents and children nowadays might be what’s causing the boom of parenting books. Children do seem to orient themselves more to their peers, or to pop stars for that matter, instead of to their parents. As a consequence, said parents seem to lose part of the authority that used to be natural to them. And without authority or influence, you’re nowhere as a parent, are you?

It might seem suffocating or overprotective, but for myself, I will continue to try and keep my children close. We will wear crazy matching outfits from time to time, we will cook and cry together, we will cuddle and pillow fight. I will keep investing in that state of our relationship. Because the moments I open myself up to be close to them, either physically or mentally, I don’t need therapists or parenting guides. I don’t even need parenting skills.

With my children close, I can just be a parent.

How do you feel about the booming business of parenting guides? Do you believe keeping your children close is key?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K @ The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.


If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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GREECE: New Writer Interview – Ann Marie Wraight

GREECE: New Writer Interview – Ann Marie Wraight

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

Well, this may be the most difficult question to answer!

I’ve lived for the last twenty years in the northwestern mainland area of beautiful Greece. By birth I’m British as were my parents and grandparents, although I’ve had dual nationality – British/Greek – for about a decade. I was born in England but my family relocated to Australia when I was about 3 years old and so I started my primary education in Sydney. Due to family problems, we left Sydney when I was about 8 and returned to the UK where I was based until I finished my A levels. I decided to go to Berlin, Germany to do my gap year before starting my degree course. I was so intrigued by the culture, language and endless opportunities in Berlin that I extended my “gap year” to THREE gap years before finally starting my degree course in the UK! Once I’d gained my BA (Hons) qualification I immediately came to Greece on a teaching contract and have lived here ever since!
So, to cut a long story short, let’s say I’m a Brit by birth, Aussie by nature with a sprinkling of Greek/German regarding my greedy appetite for tasty food and chilled beer!!!

What language(s) do you speak?

My native language is of course English and I have a high level of modern Greek and German. Until I was in my 20’s my French was passable but I honestly think that Brits shouldn’t try to speak this flowing and poetic tongue unless they REALLY make an effort to get the accent RIGHT! I haven’t been to France since my 20’s so, alas, I’ve probably forgotten most of what I knew.

When did you first become a mother?

I first became a mother in my early 30’s which is relatively late for Greek standards although fairly normal for British women.

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

The idea of not working on a permanent basis absolutely TERRIFIES me! I’ve worked on both a volunteer and professional basis since I was 15 and if I have periods of a month or more when I stay at home it ends up in a bout of depression. Always. Short holidays are pleasant but not for extended periods of time. That’s why I continued teaching right up to the birth of both my boys and continued to work from home (doing private tuition) while I breastfed them. I love teaching and being with teens gives me both pleasure and lots of positive energy. I’m addicted to it and believe that staying home and being a full time mother is MUCH harder and challenging than working outside the home!

Why do you write?

I learnt to read and write before I went to school as I was one of those tiring kids who could never sit still. Books and words fascinated me and when I was 5 I made a small folder with VERY short stories and plays! No piece was more than 50 or 60 words but I thought I was a Genius! I used to force my brother and friends to act out the scenes and dialogues I wrote, fantasising about how much smarter than them I was!!! What an obnoxious and bossy child I was!

The death of my mother from cancer when I was six and a half certainly knocked me down to earth and cured me of my bossiness, though. I hardly spoke at school and almost never at home for about 2 years after that so writing became my main form of communication with the outside world. Books and words got me through those terrible years. Writing was my escape from cruel reality.

In my adult life, writing is my main means of socialising as I live in a fairly isolated region of mainland Greece. I have 3 herniated spinal discs which means I have to limit the amount of driving I do. I don’t have the luxury of just popping over to a friend’s house for a coffee as it entails at least an hours’ drive.Too painful for me! So, writing saves me as I can express myself on a practical, emotional and creative level! I’m working on a children’s book at the moment, too, so my creative side is being constantly fed! Basically, writing keeps me sane!

What makes you unique as a mother?

Every mother has her own stamp or parenting style. When I was pregnant I used to really worry about how I would interact with my child. Every mother wonders about that of course but remember, my own mother had passed away when I was six. I didn’t have a role model or a standard to follow. My father didn’t remarry and he worked full time so it was up to me to look after my brother, cook, clean and of course get good grades at school! So, in a way I was a mother to my younger brother from a VERY early age. I went from being a brat and know-it-all to a mini-momma by the age of 8. I didn’t really have a typical childhood at all!
This is what makes me unique as a mother. I am very wary of over pushing my 13 and 14 year old sons in a very competitive culture. I’m hyper-aware of their emotional state and they can REALLY talk to me about most of the things that bother them. I believe the way I had to grow up has made me more empathetic and sensitive than most European mothers are.

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

Wow- the list is endless!!!

In my house a major challenge is to encourage our boys to be open-minded and embrace people of other cultures, religions and world views. Most Greeks tend to be pretty narrow minded towards anything or anybody non-Greek! From primary school level especially, there is a very negative attitude towards children from certain countries such as Albania and Bulgaria. My blood really boils when my boys come home and repeat racist comments they have heard at school!

Despite such easy internet access nowadays to a plethora of global information, many parents and teachers in Greece are ignorant of other cultures, education systems and religious views. In an attempt to combat this, we hope that by using reason and examples of our personal friends from these cultures, we can get our boys to see that these stereotypical accusations are ridiculous. One of the most trustworthy employees we’ve ever had was from Albania and one of my closest female friends looks like a model, has the heart of Mother Theresa and is a Mathematics Professor at University level. She’s also Albanian!

So by our own personal interaction and logical arguments, our children see for themselves the opposite of what they sometimes hear and experience at school.

We have also told our boys about experiences I had when I first came to Greece and they feel shocked when they see how it is when someone they love is at the receiving end of an unjust system.

I’ve encountered many problems over the years both social and legal. We talk to our children about all these past experiences and encourage them to put themselves in other peoples shoes before acting. Also, the family saying is ALWAYS be fair and just. We try to teach our boys that if we  treat others as we would like to be treated, then the world would improve dramatically!

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I was introduced to the blog by a very dear friend and writer/blogger, Heather Kelly. She has known me for some years and suggested that I might enjoy reading about motherhood all over the globe! Cheers Heather!

Thanks for inviting me to this super blog! My childhood trait of talking about myself has obviously never been subdued!

Take care wherever you may be!

World Moms Blog welcomes Ann Marie. Photo credit: Ann Marie Wraight.

Ann Marie Wraight

Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer! This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships... In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.

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BELGIUM: Parenting Changes

BELGIUM: Parenting Changes

4289324169_93abdfaa2f_zWhen you become a parent things change.


Saying that children turn your life turns upside down, inside out and back again is most definitely not an understatement.

Bodily changes, sleep deprivation and related mental breakdowns aside, one of the major changes is the relationship with your own parents. Because in a weird way you are suddenly equals. You are both parents.

Granted, your parents might have a bit more experience on the job, but you might consider yourselves employees of the same company now.

You are the newbie and they are the old stalwarts who will insist on explaining how the coffee machine works. Even though it has only one button. And just like in the office, you each have your own way of going about the daily job that is parenting.

It was my father who pointed this out to me when he remarked that I was a very different mother to my children than my mother was to me.

Of course this is true, mainly due to the fact that I’m NOT my mother (no, really, I’m not my mother, I might have started to look a lot more like her, use the same phrases, and have taken up some of her habits, but I AM NOT MY MOTHER).

Characterwise my mom and I are poles apart. She is one of those patient, focused, well-organized, grownup creatures we all secretly wish to be. And I am an impatient firecracker, who is working on a million things at once and who can never be bothered about matching socks.

But I have to admit that my parenting style is different too. Some of it is deliberate and some not.

For instance, I never deny my children a food or beverage using the words ‘it will make you fat’, opting instead for ‘it is not healthy’ or ‘it is bad for your teeth’. I know this is no guarantee for avoiding any body-image/food–related trouble but I like to think it gives them a better chance for avoiding the damage some of us (myself included) went through.

Neither do I use spanking as a means of punishment. My parents spanked, but I quite frankly don’t see the point. Within a few years withholding privileges and time outs will probably looked upon as barbaric and the toddler shock collar might be all the rage but for now the “Go to your room and no movie” or “Pull out all the weeds from the garden” work for us.

My girls enjoy a greater amount of freedom then I did at their age. For instance there are A LOT of unscheduled play dates. Especially during summer, it is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find myself confronted by five children. My friends were welcome to come and play, but there had to be a call and confirmation from both sets of parents in advance. Permission still has to be asked and we need to know approximately in which house they’ll be. But planning… nope.

I won’t even begin to describe the difference regarding electronics and their use. Remember I was born in a time when a phone with push–buttons instead of dial ones was considered cutting edge. The mobile phone was something straight out of a science fiction movie. Plus I lived in Africa, where there was no such thing as TV. Although we did in fact own a television the only thing it played where VHS cassettes (remember those!?) which were sent to us by friendly relatives left behind in Belgium.

The one thing we do have in common though is that we both do our best.

We do our best to ensure our children grow up happy. We try to avoid ‘mistakes’ of the past. We try our best to make sure the little humans in our care grow up to be level-headed adults and can only hope our pottering along will turn out all right in the end.

Do you ‘parent’ differently compared to your own parents? If Yes, how so?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes. Photo credit:Eric Danley. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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Saturday Sidebar: Who is your kindred spirit in parenting?

WMB Writer Kyla P’an and her kindred spirit in parenting, Rachel Osen.

There are so many different parenting styles in the world, which makes World Moms Blog writer, Tara B. ask,

“Do you have a kindred spirit in parenting? Aside from the bond of motherhood and the fact that all moms want the best for their kid…is there someone you know who operates just like you on the basic nuts and bolts of day to day parenting?  If so, how did you find him/her?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Kyla P’an of Massachusetts, USA writes:
“Yes, my friend in Montana, Rachel Osen. I don’t know if it’s because our kids are the same genders and exactly the same ages, or if it’s because our pre-children adulthood was so parallel, but she’s one of the few people I can be so open with about the trials and tribulations of parenting. I feel like we protect or guard our true selves all the time, much like Ruth Wong discussed in Motherhood is NOT a Competition, but I never feel that way with Rachel.” (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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