INDONESIA: Helping Your Child Through Difficult Times

INDONESIA: Helping Your Child Through Difficult Times

The news hit me hard.

“Where do we go from here?”

“How can I explain it to him?”

“How will he cope?”

“How am I going to help him through this?”

All the above has been clouding my mind for the past couple of months. I tried to shut it down by keeping my already busy self even busier. Burying myself deeper with work, refusing to deal with the reality.

Motherhood didn’t prepare me for this!

At least it hasn’t yet…

My heart would lament at the sad truth.

Some nights the little voice inside me would whisper “What if he doesn’t survive?” Those little voices often times grow bigger and louder and leave me paralyzed at the thought of how Ican help my son through the worse possible scenario.

The unknown can be a truly terrible thing and I am searching high and low for comfort or faith in how everything will turn out for us. For my son and I. We will get through this, no matter what!

Some nights my heart breaks into a million little pieces seeing my son’s face as he sleeps peacefully. Tears running down my face like there’s no tomorrow.

“How do we protect our children from heartache?”

“God, please help me!”

It is almost a natural instinct for mothers to protect their children, right? Yet life will bring us heartache, disappointments and pain. So how can I help and guide my son to manage all of those possibilities?

Then it dawned on me, I cannot forever protect him with a bubble wrap. I cannot shield him from bad news. The world is not always rainbow and sunshine. There will be bad days but hope is always there. Hope is what will get us through the not so good days.

Protecting Your ChildMy son, my precious child may need to learn more about heartache sooner than his peers. He has overcome the facts that his parents are divorced. He has learned to distinguish that a family unit does not always consists of Mommy and Daddy. He now understands that he has two homes filled with people that love him.

As much as I wish to shield him from sadness, I realize I can’t prevent the circumstances in our lives.

All I can do is assure him that everyone loves him. Reminding him that I will understand his feelings and validate them. Knowing my child, I know he can ask the most gut wrenching questions at times so I must prepare myself for that. My son needs a lot of encouragement to talk openly about his feelings and it takes great patience until he is ready to be open. Therefore, I will wait for his cue while being understanding and assure him how much he is loved.

How do you help your child going through difficult times?

This is an original article by World Mom Maureen Hitipeuw from Indonesia

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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POLAND: Stay-At-Home Parent – When Kids Go to School

POLAND: Stay-At-Home Parent – When Kids Go to School

Indulging in ice cream on a hot day in Krakow's main market square

Indulging in ice cream on a hot day in Krakow’s main market square

Free time. Sometimes I feel like I would give an arm and a leg for a little bit of free time. To have lunch with friends.  To go to the gym.  To take a nap. To read. To go to the grocery store all by myself.  To do nothing.at.all. I knew when I signed up to be a stay-at-home parent that I would have little time to myself. I also knew that with my husband’s job, which has us moving to a different country every two or three years, that having a set of grandparents (or two) close by to provide some regular child-free relief was not going to happen. In our journey across the globe, we’ve been fortunate enough to find our place and develop our circles of friends.  The expat communities in Thailand and Poland have been good to us, and we know that if we have an emergency, we can call on the support of our friends to help us out with the kids if need be. That is the way it works when you are abroad. You help each other out.  And I am so grateful for these friends and their support.

But, still, when you are a stay-at-home parent, particularly not near close friends and family, you spend an extraordinary amount of time with your kids.  This is of course exhausting, but also wonderful.  You get to witness every little new thing they discover, the days their mood begins to change and they develop new facets of their personality, and watch the bond between siblings grow (yes, a time does come when they stop fighting constantly). Your life is so wrapped up in theirs that it is hard to imagine a time when it will no longer be that way. Their every little move is known to you, and yours to them.

Enjoying waffles while visiting the Easter markets in Krakow

Enjoying waffles while visiting the Easter markets in Krakow

But, one day they will go off to school – all of them (in my case, three) – and then, you will actually have free time. Think about that for a minute. You, without needing to feel guilty, will be able to do what you want to do – whether that is going back to work part-time or full-time, or taking on a new hobby or two, or just enjoying the peace and quiet for awhile.  This is your time. So what will you do?

I am not going to lie. I have about 18 things on my plate that I would like to do when the kids start school.  I’d like to start writing more often and for more publications, I would like to write another children’s book (and hope that it will be successfully published this time). I would like to train for and run a marathon.  I would like to learn to swim and bike correctly and try my hand at a triathlon.  I would like to become a good photographer.  I would like to get back to writing thank you notes, planning ahead of time, and reading. I would like to cook and not be rushed. I would like to explore the city – take tours, visit the non-kid friendly museums, mosey about Krakow’s beautiful old market square.

So yea, it’s safe to say I’ve thought about what I will do when the kids go to school. But sometimes I wonder if the thrill of free time will peter out quickly.  The reason I stopped working five years ago was to stay at home with the kids.

Will I be able to feel that my life is fulfilling when they are no longer at home, nor fully dependent on me? Will what I plan to do with my time be “enough?” Will it fill the void of not having them around?  Will my time be useful?  And if so, to whom will it be useful?

Enjoying a morning of fun at the Engineering Museum in Krakow

Enjoying a morning of fun at the Engineering Museum in Krakow

I have talked to other mothers who have the same concern.  One friend in particular who just went through the process of sending her boys off to school for the first time (she home-schooled them previously) has struggled with feeling whether what she is doing in her free time “enough?”  When your role – for years – is to raise sweet little beings into strong, confident, and loving children, and then one day the time you have to do that is cut back significantly – what will that feel like?  Will it be a blow?  Will it be a relief? Will it be bittersweet?

At a minimum, it will be an adjustment.  And while I don’t have any answers, yet, it is just one more milestone on this path of parenthood.

Are you a stay-at-home parent? How have you adjusted, or how will you adjust, to your kids going to school?

p>This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Loren Braunohler of Poland.

Loren Braunohler

Loren Braunohler is a former U.S. diplomat turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She is a world traveler who avoids the cold (don't ask why she is currently in Poland). Former assignments have included Mozambique, Venezuela, Australia, Sudan, Thailand and Washington, D.C. She enjoys running, although she probably enjoys sleeping even more. Loren blogs about her family's international adventures and parenting at www.toddlejoy.com.

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CANADA: Parenting In The Social Media Age

CANADA: Parenting In The Social Media Age

social media parentingMy children are part of the first generation for whom social media has always existed. When I was a child, the term “email” hadn’t even been invented yet. For my children, Facebook has always existed and email is regarded as old-fashioned. This has all kinds of implications for kids, of course. We’ve all seen the multitude of reports and studies about what screen time is doing to our kids, how the obesity epidemic is being linked to the explosion of computer-based gaming, and how computers are making new skills emerge as old skills decline.

Something that is not talked about as frequently is the impact of social media on parents.

When my mother was raising me and my brother, the only people she could call on for advice or opinions were people she actually knew in person.

If she needed help, she had to either pick up the phone and ask, or go and visit someone. In the event of a child getting sick or injured, she would take us to the doctor, trust whatever the doctor said and get whatever medication was prescribed.

My parenting experience has been vastly different. I have the same supports that my mother had – friends, family members, and especially my mother herself – but I also have the Internet. When my older son was born, I joined a parenting group on Yahoo, and developed a friendship with fellow members that endures to this day (the only difference is that the Yahoo group is now a Facebook group). When my son was diagnosed with autism, I joined an autism parenting group, with the same results.

Both groups are about requesting and receiving advice, sharing funny stories about our kids, and having a safe place to vent on our bad days. Through these groups – and through World Moms Blog – I have developed online friendships that are every bit as real as “traditional” friendships. We rally around each other in bad times, and we celebrate together in good times.

No matter what is going on with my kids or with myself as a mother, I always know that there is someone out there who understands. And if I can’t find someone who has the answers I need, there’s always Google.

There are downsides to parenting in the age of social media, of course. Sometimes I go searching for understanding and find judgment instead. I find stark divisions in the parenting community. I have been criticized for vaccinating my kids. I have seen homeschooling moms viciously attack those who send their kids to school, and vice versa. I was once an uncomfortable online witness to a discussion in which a breastfeeding advocate smugly told a breast cancer survivor that she would be able to breastfeed her newborn child if she “tried harder”.

So yes, ugliness is as pervasive on the Internet as it is in the physical world. But we respond to it in the same way: by trying to counteract the bad with the good, by being supportive of one another and by leaving the ugliness behind.

At the end of the day, I am thankful to have the world of social media at my fingertips as I navigate the mysterious world of parenting. And I am even more thankful that at any time, I can pick up the phone and call the person who muddled through it all without the Internet: my mother.

What differences have you noticed between your mother’s era of parenting and your own? Does social media play an important role in your journey as a mother?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada.

Photo credit: StartBloggingOnline.com  This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

 

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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INDONESIA: What Single Moms Need

INDONESIA: What Single Moms Need

They blame me…

They said I must not have been a good enough wife…

Is it okay to ask the father to pay for my child?

I’m not allowed to leave the house.

“Being a single mom, feel people look down on me as I matter less.

What Single Moms Need

What Single Moms Need

Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the year, since I started a local support group for single mothers called Single Moms Indonesia.

Living in a patriarchal country Indonesia, women still get blamed for filing divorce. The religious divorce court will put the blame on the women. The court will have a mediation session that almost always ended up with a panel of male officials putting the blame on the women. Women are usually prone to be verbally abused in this situation. It doesn’t matter if the woman filed for divorce following her husband’s infidelity or even abuse.

Indonesians have one word for divorced woman and it is laden with a negative connotation. The word is “Janda” and it’s true meanings are: a woman whose husband has died, or she is a divorcee. I’m not a fan of the word because of the shadowing negativity behind it. The word has turned into a label. It means that the woman behind it is someone who will seduce another’s husband, who ‘asked for it’. It means a woman who is worthy of all the juicy gossips.

To hear members of the support group that live outside of Jakarta, in small towns talked about how they are being isolated just because the neighbor thinks she may pose a threat for being divorced really disturbs me. Not only have these women lost their families but they are also being shunned by the society and having little supports from the government.

What these women need are our support. They do not want to be blamed for their decisions in life. They do not want to be made embarrassed and put on the spot often in a derogatory way. 

What single moms in Indonesia needs:

  • Emotional support. Some members of our group choose to be anonymous because they fear that their families or friends will start gossiping.
  • Financial Education. Having to be responsible for their own financial state can be daunting for some women especially if they have never work before. Financial education can really help single moms to make better choices or investment.
  • Parenting Therapy/Support. Often times single moms here are stressed borderline depressed going through their divorce process this can greatly impact the way they mother to their children.
  • Affordable Daycare. One of the biggest challenges of working single mothers in Jakarta and Indonesia, in general, is the lack of affordable daycare available.
  • Affordable Housing. With prices of housing skyrocketing in Indonesia, plenty of single mothers are forced to move back in, with their parents or rent the cheapest place they can afford.
  • Child Support. There is no legal binding laws or government agency in Indonesia that assure children out of divorce families are financially taken care of. In most cases, men just flee and leave the financial burden of raising children to their ex-spouse.

I know these are very general things that not only Indonesian single moms needs, but all single parents needs.

Maybe as a society the simple first step we could take is to be kind and understanding towards single moms because deep down we are all just trying to do our best with the circumstances we are forced to be in, in this life.

Single moms, just like the rest are trying to make it work and to raise children who will become great individuals in the future.

How is life for single moms in your country? Does your government provide special assistant for single parents?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Maureen.

Photo credit to unsplash.com

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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BELGIUM: Sunny Clouded Eyes

BELGIUM: Sunny Clouded Eyes

katinkaDoes that mean I get a cane now?

And a dog?

That would be sooooo cool!

She was excited, my precious one. She skipped and danced, as we left the hospital. I had just explained to her, in careful wording, that she was now officially ‘disabled’. At the last tests, her eyesight was down to ten percent, which was substantially less than a bystander would judge. Most people don’t even notice she is 90 % blind.

She compensates a lot, the therapist confirmed. She constantly moves her head around to get a full view with the remaining ten percent. Her eye-brain-connection is still flexible and easily adjusts. She even unconsciously practices echo localisation. The scientist in me finds thàt extremely cool.

The overwhelmed mother, on the other hand, was nearly in tears. I had known what was coming. I had heard the forecast. I had seen the clouds. But still, the thunder unsettled me.

Disabled. The phrasing seems so inappropriate for her. She is so able!

She is in first grade now and struggles to learn how to read. Focusing on the letters is extremely tiring for her. She keeps losing track of the word she is reading, as it disappears in the 90 % cloudy view. She literally has to press her nose next to the word she is deciphering. Writing is even harder, with minimal sight to guide her hand.

But still, she keeps trying. For the last month, she has worked twice as hard as her classmates. She has begged for extra homework and practised until her neck was hurting too much from bending down. For now, she just craved to learn how to read.

So that’s what she did. Last Thursday, she passed her first reading test. Yes, she was far slower than her peers. But she passed. I’ve never been prouder.

As of today, with her official label of disabled, she is entitled to extra support, both at home and in school. We’ll get her a special, tilted desk to spare her neck. Binoculars to keep track of the writing on the board and other magnification aids. Learning will become easier for her from now on.

2015 WMB Quote K10K Disabled

And no, she won’t get a cane and a dog just yet.

She wasn’t even disappointed and kept skipping, not noticing all the people who had to jump aside to let her pass.

I don’t need them anyway!

Instead, she asked for eye make-up.

You know, because the doctor said I have such lovely eyes.

She chose yellow, which turned golden on her skin.

Sunny clouded eyes.

How do you talk with your child about disabilities? Do you recognize the lightness of heart a child can deal with it?

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.

Katinka

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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