Naming the struggles: transition to life with a new baby

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(“Maternity” (1935) by José de Almada Negreiros via P. Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CC)

“You name our suffering, and that makes us want to come close to You.”

(Rev. Glenn Hoburg, Grace Presbyterian Church)

The second I heard those words, I put down my pen and slammed my journal shut.

Did I hear that right? I thought. How did he know? How was it possible that those words, preached in a church about the New Testament book of Romans, could have anything to do with my parenting a three-year old and a 10-month old baby?

Although uttered in the form of a prayer, referring to God’s relationship with His children, that sentence immediately reminded me of my three-year old daughter, E., life with a new baby (yes, still, 10 months later), and my ability to accept – and confront – all of E.’s feelings.

Let me explain. Continue reading

Sportscasting – the language of parenting

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(Photo via in pastel, Flickr Creative Commons)

When I first started this blog as a new mother, I wrote a few posts about my journey in bilingual parenting and learning the language of mothering, which for me is Spanish, my second language. Now, some three years later, I am learning a new, different kind, of language: sportscasting.

Sportscasting, or narrating, is a RIE concept developed by its founder, Magda Gerber.

In the same way that a sports announcer is trained to give an impartial, non-judgmental analysis of a tennis match or football game, parents are encouraged to sportscast, or describe, what they see when interacting with their children. Narrate, not judge. Reflect back for a child, rather than suggest or direct.

To give you a clearer idea of what sportscasting looks like in our home, I’d like to share when and why I sportscast. Continue reading

What we’re reading, November

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(Photo courtesy of Christopher, Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy early Thanksgiving (to my American readers)!

The crisp, cool weather is finally upon us and with the shorter days, I have found we’re spending lots of our indoor time reading. No complaints here!

Here are a few of our favorite reads lately, books for both children and parents.

Enjoy!

Continue reading

MY “sleep training” story

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Baby J. is almost five months old. And, it’s right around this time that I begin to hear chatter among parent friends about…

Sleep training.

Probably the most divisive term in parenting today.

To some in conjures associations of “cry it out” or “abandonment” or “undue stress” or “cruel and unusual punishment.” As if babies were helpless victims of undeserving torture.

You swing to the opposite extreme, and it’s used to talk about babies like, “you have to sleep train that baby,” or “they’re going to have to learn some day,” or “while they cry, just drink some wine and put on some headphones.” Pitting “us parents” against our adversarial “them, the babies.”

Yet, I would ask, must the topic of young children and sleep really be framed between two negative bookends? Does sleep for infants necessarily imply that either the child or the parent suffers in order to reach a certain goal?

Is it really all or nothing?

Is there any middle ground? I think so.

First, as with everything in parenting, it requires a reframing of our mindset, how we view the whole notion of sleep. And, how we view babies.

Babies.

RIE has challenged me to reconsider how I view babies. To respect them as whole human beings from the day they are born.

Sleep.

Perhaps it is more productive – and respectful – to discuss infants and sleep in terms of learning, a process, something organic and fluid. And, to trust that children are competent to learn how to sleep on their own (without a parent’s interference).

So, instead of sharing baby J.’s sleep learning story, I’d like to share mine. Continue reading

It all begins and ends with me: the heart of parenting

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(Photo courtesy of Barbara W, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last Thursday I had to excuse myself from E.’s bedroom. “Necesito un descanso,” I told her. I need a break.

What I didn’t tell her was why.

But, I could feel the anger swirling in my stomach. My muscles were tight. I needed to step away. I needed to take a few deep breaths. I needed a time out.

“Was that okay?” I asked myself. 

Processing the situation later, I realized, “yes, of course! It’s always okay, when you sense you’re about to lose your temper, to take a break.” 

I also realized that there was more going on.  

Because in parenting there’s always more. So much more. Continue reading

Community and support: Online parenting forums

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(Photo courtesy of Sean McGrath, Flickr Creative Commons)

Two facts I know to be true about parenting:

It’s hard.

It’s not meant to be done alone.

That’s why community is vital in our growth as parents.

Community can come from our extended family helping us as we transition to life with a new baby. Or, from being part of a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or a tight-knit neighborhood.

Community support can also be virtual, on-line.

And, while I know that many parents are skeptical of taking advice from strangers in a parenting Facebook group, and while I recognize that some on-line forums have a reputation of drama, chaos, and lack of focus, I’d like to share with you all a curated (very curated because I have indeed had to remove myself from some “high drama” groups!) list of Facebook groups and pages that I recommend you check out.

They are divided into two major categories, Facebook groups and pages. Within”groups,” there are three sections: respectful parenting, educational philosophies, and multilingual parenting.

The titles with * are my top favorites, ones I recommend with zero reservations, ones that I personally turn to and participate in for constructive advice on parenting with respect.)

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

From day one: bodily autonomy and consent

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(Photo via Mirra Photography, Flickr Creative Commons)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s!

You’re probably no stranger to the recent news surrounding the US presidential elections, and specifically the track record of candidate Donald Trump: allegations of sexual assault, lewd comments about women caught on tape in 2005, which have sparked intense backlash from both men and women, in and outside the political sphere.

One response in particular caught my attention last week: Canadian author Kelly Oxford tweeted about her first sexual assault at age 12. Her tweet led to a flood of women tweeting their own stories, demonstrating once again that even in 2016 we are still dealing with a culture of rape.

What do Trump, sexual assault, and rape culture have to do with parenting? A lot actually.

Bodily autonomy and consent:

We teach them to our children from the day they are born.

As parents of young children reading the latest headlines, we may be resigned to feeling helpless (“So, this is the world my children are destined to live in.”), or to falsely thinking we have 10 or 15 years until we have to “have the talk” with our teenage children.

I’d like to offer an alternative option.

I believe there are practical, everyday, steps we parents can take now, when our children are young, so that they grow up to be adults who not only respect their own bodies but those of others.

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading