Tag Archives: childhood

Choosing Friends: Helping Your Tween Make Wise Choices

The “tween” years, the years between childhood and the teenage years, are some of the strongest years for mistakes to be made due to peer pressure, yet these are the years when children do not appreciate their mom’s help with choosing friends. As a mom, you have to be subtle in your approach to helping your child make wise choices as to the friends he is going to hang out with.

The first thing you need to do is start the conversation early. Talk to your child about what makes a good friend and what does not. Take their opinions, but also provide your own advice, not relating to any particular friend, but just to friendships in general.

Next, make your rules clear. For instance, you might say that your child will not be allowed to be friends with someone who uses drugs or hosts unsupervised parties, period. Since tweens still do not have the ability to drive, you can easily enforce these rules.

Encourage your tween to have friends in your home, whenever possible. This might not be possible during the week because you are working, but on the weekends, order pizza and have your home be a fun hangout. This gives you the chance to have a peek at the type of friend your child is attracting, and to maintain that conversation about wise and unwise friendships.

Finally, be a good listener. When your child wants to talk about the drama in her social circles, listen. You will be able to give your child insights on better thoughts about choosing friends, as well as turn yourself into an emotional confidant to your most important “friend,” your child! The “tween” years are some of the most important in your child’s social development, and their choice of friends will greatly influence their future endeavors.

First Day of Preschool

The first day of preschool is always exciting and somewhat frightening for both mom and child. Since you have likely worked throughout your child’s toddler years, since you are the only wage earner, you may not face the issue of strong separation anxiety, yet there are some transitions that will challenge your child, especially if they were in a home daycare setting before, and you can help them prepare if you plan ahead.

First, brace yourself for some crying, even if your child normally doesn’t cry when he goes to daycare. Sometimes he will cry because he sees other kids crying, or sometimes he will cry just because he is not familiar with the location. This is normal and not a problem.

If you can, take your child on a tour of the preschool before the big day arrives. If she can see the room, find her cubby, and get familiar with the teacher’s face a little bit, she will be less frightened.

When the time comes to leave after drop off, leave. The teacher is used to the tears and hysterics that happen on the first day. You can make them worse by staying. Chances are your child will calm down as soon as you are out of sight. If the problem is large, the school will call. Assure your child that you love him, will return at a certain time, and then leave.

Remember, the first day of preschool can be traumatic, but it will soon be over. Your little one will quickly adapt to the new environment and embrace it with the same go-to spirit she currently has for your current daycare or babysitter. And, in the process, she will learn valuable social and academic skills to carry her through her school years.

Discipline is Not Punishment

Infants and discipline are two words that don’t seem to go together. How can the pink faced little bundle in your arms smelling sweetly of baby powder possibly misbehave badly enough to warrant any kind of disciplinary action? The single mom knows that a big part of parenting is instilling proper discipline at an early age, but how early?

The first time your baby spits his food out at you, it may be very amusing. You might burst out in laughter when tiny hands upend the bowl containing his meal over his head. Many moms keep a camera handy, hoping for a repeat performance so that the tiny signs of personality can be recorded so that they never escape memory. When the behavior continues, many single moms are no longer amused and search for ways to stop the infant from the mischief.

Teaching the meaning of the word no at the starting line is a task that takes patience and love. A baby who hasn’t yet reached his first birthday will understand the tone of the word, but won’t understand that it means that his actions are inappropriate. He’s just a baby exploring his limited world through arms, legs and little fingers he is just discovering that he can control.

The baby doesn’t understand that he is doing anything wrong, even as he bites, puts any object within his reach in his mouth or grabs and pulls at hair and jewelry. The capacity for understanding right and wrong has not yet been developed. Any attempt at punishment will fail because the child has no concept of what he did that was inappropriate.

The behaviors, however, can’t be allowed to continue, so the first recourse mom has is to say “No”.  In a calm yet stern voice, the word no can alert the child to the fact that his immediate action was not accepted well. Over time, the baby may start reacting badly to the word, so it is important that the single mom follows up her admonishment with a smile or hug when the tiny misbehavior stops.

As the infant becomes mobile and his reach gets longer, it’s more likely that mom will find herself saying “no” over and over again. This repetitive use of the word has its own dangers. The baby might get so used to hearing the word that he just tunes it out. Instead of telling the infant who is biting, “no” over and over again, offer him something he is allowed to bite on, like a teething ring.

Be creative when offering an infant a diversion from activities that aren’t acceptable. Remove objects and place them out of reach when necessary. If the child’s curiosity won’t let him be distracted, it may be necessary to bring the child into another room until his desired objective is forgotten.


Do You Really Know Your Teenager?

Single moms who have diligently worked at keeping the lines of communication open and honest with their child since they learned how to talk often feel that they really know their child by the time they reach the finishing line, or those teenage years between 15 and 18. This provides mom with a relative feeling of security as the teenager grows to pursue activities outside of the home without the parenting tagging along as a chaperon.

The savvy single mom knows that they only know as much about the teenager’s life as the child is willing to share with her.

Teenagers can talk about their friends and even bring them home so that you can meet them. These are the friends and acquaintances that are ‘mom proof’. They are classmates, coworkers or other neighborhood peers that your child feels that you will approve of.

The teenager might also talk at length about their daily activities. But the smart single mom knows that all of this talk is only about the things their young adult is willing to share. As long as their day didn’t involve activities that required teachers, other parents, or law enforcement to contact you, you really have no way to know for sure what activities your child has become involved in.

Take heart. At least your teenager is still communicating with you. Many teenagers avoid having real conversations with mom at all.

So, how do you get a glimpse into your teenager’s real life if they are not willing to share?

A bit of detective work can help the mom know what’s going on in the world of a typical young adult by thumbing through magazines that are targeted to the ages and activities of their child. Take some extra time at the library or at the magazine rack of the grocery or department store on your next visit to see what’s trending. Become familiar with the popular music and pay attention to the lyrics. Watch the movies you child wants to see for themes and identify why that type of movie is so attractive to your teenager.

Know the local pitfalls that could cause a possible danger for your child. Is there a drug problem at the mall or on the school campus? What about gang activity? Know the signs that might give a hint that your child could be exposed to peer pressures that could be dangerous and take the steps necessary to protect your child.

Parents in the area with children in the same age group can also provide information on the realities of teenage life. Seek out these parents in the neighborhood, at work, church and other social functions. Your networking skills will pay off by the information you can glean from parents who are facing the same search.

Never forget that you are the parent. Teenagers want privacy and the single mom wants to respect that. Just make sure the teenager is aware that it’s your job to keep them safe, and you take any measures you deem appropriate to insure that you succeed.

Moms Values vs. Peer Pressure

As children grow they become more aware of how they are perceived by other kids their own age. Most kids don’t want to appear to be too much different from their friends, and will often request a change of wardrobe, hair style or even accessories that match the style of their friends. This type of peer pressure can start at any time, but has usually appeared by the time the child is approximately eleven years old.

The need to fit in with peers is normal, but it does have its hazards. Negative influences can jeopardize the child’s behavior and work to undermine the values that the single mom has struggled to instill in her child.

Once the child is free of moms’ watchful eye, individual choices have to be made. Does the child act in the way that they know mom would like them to act or do they ch0ose to act in a way that will put them in a favorable light with their friends?

Peer pressure is not always a bad thing. Friends can often provide a positive influence in the life of your child. They can help your child become more confident and to expand their boundaries by accepting new challenges. But many times the child is presented with the choice to do what is right and what will make him look good to his peers.

A single mom knows how important it is to have good communication with her child. She can use the open lines of communication to discover what types of peer pressure her child faces on a daily basis.

Encourage the child to talk about his or her friends. A casual and open conversation is usually all that is needed to alert the single mom to any dangerous situations that may be lurking in the child’s future. If the child brings up an instance of verbal or physical bullying on the playground, the single mom can step in and reinforce her values, letting the child know that a bully is a bully and not a friend.

If the child wants to have a certain type of accessory because she feels that her  friends will not think as highly of her, mom can again step in and reassure the child that material possessions make no difference in deciding whether a friendship is accepted or rejected.

Single moms can often avert potential peer pressure problems by teaching the child good decision making skills. When presented with a challenge by their peers, the well prepared child will take a moment to think before the choice is made.

Tips For A Single Mom Raising Bi-Racial Children

Being a single mom is tough, no matter what the circumstances. It can be rough to make it alone financially, and it can be even more daunting if you are in a situation where you and the father of your child don’t get along well. But some single moms find themselves in an even more unique situation — as single parents to a bi-racial child.

At first blush, parenting a bi-racial child seems like the same as parenting any other child, but look a bit closer, and you will see many differences, all of which are very important. The bi-racial child might have questions about their heritage, or wonder why they don’t look exactly like you. For some, skin color doesn’t phase them, but for others, they will have questions about every aspect of it. This can become even more pronounced when they start school, because they are dealing with questions from their peers, and perhaps even teasing and taunting.

That’s why it is so important as a single mom to raise a bi-racial child in an atmosphere of acceptance. Here are a few tips to help make that happen:

  • Demonstrate all kinds of beauty. Make a point of having all kinds of beauty represented in your home. Have white dolls as well as black dolls, Latino dolls, and fair Irish maidens. Purchase books that have a healthy balance and feature more than one race. Make a point of praising all types of beauty, and not just the differences in skin color. Point out different hair styles, body art, and even fashions.
  • Offer diverse worlds for them to explore. Invite people into your lives from many diverse backgrounds. Study different cultures and explore different languages. Take trips to other countries if you can. Show your child that who they are inside is what matters, and that in the end, everyone is different on the outside.
  • Study the world map. The world is not just black and white, so to speak. Make sure your child is well-educated in every kind of culture you can fathom. Share little tidbits of interesting things throughout their day that keeps their mind thinking in positive directions when it comes to race and diversity. Talk about history, and the struggles that race has sometimes brought to various countries throughout the world. Make it clear to them that their corner of the globe is just that — one small corner. There are so many different nationalities, races, languages, and customs out there ready to be explored!
  • Embrace it all. The differences are what make your child unique. The blending of cultures is what makes them shine. Tell them how proud you are of them, and don’t let them be hurt by the narrow-minded people they will come across from time to time. The whole world is their oyster — make certain they never forget that.