How to select toys for a child’s play (“yes”) space

toys_lead_graphic.jpg

(Photo courtesy of Andy, Flickr Creative Commons)

How do you decide what toys to include in your child’s “yes”/play space?

While I could have subtitled this blog post “toys for a three-year old” or “what toys to buy for an 8-month old,” I realized that that would be missing the point.

“When setting up your child’s play environment, age-appropriate space and play objects are important considerations. It is best to provide an optimal learning environment according to your child’s stage of development.” (Your Self-Confident Baby, Magda Gerber.)

What I love about Magda Gerber’s approach to childcare and play is her emphasis on the unique relationship between parent and child, one that is built on respect, trust, and careful observation of the individual child. What interests my three-year old daughter might not interest yours; the same goes for my 8.5-month old son. So, instead, I’d like to share with you a list of some guiding principles that I have used to create a personalized “yes” space for each of my children. These are principles that have helped me choose what play objects to buy – or not – for my kids.

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

From “agenda” to “relationship”: an update to my bilingual parenting journey

baby_bebes

(Photo courtesy of Futureatlas.com, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last year I wrote about my then two-year old daughter’s language development in Spanish. My husband, D., a native of Spain, and I are raising our two children bilingually: our family’s language policy is Spanish at home/among us four and English with everyone else.

With the arrival of my daughter E. three years ago, I began my bilingual parenting journey with what some might call a “hard core” approach: use only Spanish with my children, all the time. Never English. No translating. Promote, promote, promote the minority language.

As a trained linguist, I can cite all of the research supporting bilingualism. I recognize the advantages of a family language policy that supports the minority language.

And, while I’ll be the first to raise my hand with an emphatic YES! to the benefits of being bilingual, I have to admit that my initial approach to raising bilingual children rested on nothing less than fear and control.

Constantly running through my mind were thoughts like, One day she’ll realize that English is the majority language and hate Spanish!, or, She’ll probably refuse to speak the minority language to me when she’s older, or, What if she never becomes fluent in Spanish?, or, I will never use one word of English in front of her so that she is never tempted to speak it with me.

Fear and control.

I bought book after book for E. in Spanish, I devoured all the parent “how-to” books on raising bilingual children, I joined Facebook groups, I made sure to FaceTime daily with our relatives in Spain. I even started a blog on bilingual parenting!

Fast forward three years later to today. Continue reading

What we’re reading, November

what_were_reading_november

(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

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

parenting_begins_with_me

(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

keyboard_pic_final

(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

infant_consent_final

(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

Please, thank you, & I’m sorry: teaching morals to young children

apologies_blog_post_final

(Photo via artethgray, Flickr Creative Commons)

Recently a friend of mine posted a faith-based article entitled “Should I make my child apologize” on social media, and I had the privilege to respectfully and honestly dialogue with her on-line.

Since the issue of manners and morality is one that concerns all parents, secular or religious, I thought I’d invite you all to join in the virtual conversation with my friend and me through today’s blog post.

My hope is that this post is filled with respect and humility since I know the topic of disciplining children is a sensitive one.

I want to reiterate that the purpose of this post (and, the blog as a whole) is to process my own parenting journey and to explain to others the “why” behind the decisions D. and I have made for our family.

I also hope that everything I write here serves to prompt an honest and authentic dialogue with any reader who might feel led to comment.

So, let’s jump right to it! Should we make our children apologize (or, say please and thank you, or share, etc.)?

Continue reading