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parenting

A Full Life

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Preface: This essay is about screen time limits, which are different for every family.  But it's about much more than that, so if you are triggered by my family's limits, please ask yourself why before commenting.

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"Half of my friends have their own iPhones," my 11-year-old son argued angrily. (Technically, only one friend has a cell phone, but such is the mind of the pre-adolescent.) 

He continued: "My friend O can have as much screen time as he wants as long as he gets his school w…

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When You Stop Being a Good Daughter

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Have you ever felt pressured to suppress a child's big emotions because your parent, in-law, spouse, or school administrator (if you're a teacher) is uncomfortable with the little one's behavior?

If so, I'm going to share with you a mindset shift that will help you make respectful and empathetic choices even under pressure.  This story is about motherhood, but the lesson applies to anyone who works with children.

The story starts like this...

This past winter I went to Los Angeles with my sev…

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Laughing In Her Sleep

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Ever since I can remember, my dreams have revolved around anger. I dream about standing up to the bullies in my life, loudly saying no, and asserting my needs.

Ever since I can remember, during waking hours I do the opposite. I’m the good girl, conditioned to fit in, play nice, and get along.

When I was two years old, a child psychologist told my mom that my crying spells were attempts at manipulation. Whenever I cried or got angry, she was to send me to my room. She eagerly followed his advic…

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Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Homeschooling

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My kids and I began homeschooling halfway through the school year when I left my Montessori teaching job, and at first I invested all my energy into re-creating a small classroom in my living room.  I had visions of my children happily engaging  in my inspiring lessons. But instead of harmony and joyful learning, there was apathy and avoidance of anything that remotely resembled what they knew as school.

Humbled and defeated, I gave up my visions of my one-room schoolhouse. I wiped away tears o…

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Raising Creative Problem-Solvers

Do you constantly referee children's disagreements?  Do you tend to side with one child, frustrating the other?  Or do you offer solutions, only to be ignored?  If you're nodding in response to any of these questions, then read on!

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The scenario:

My 4.5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son share a room.  It's the only place in the house where they're allowed to play LEGOs, so the plastic pieces don't take over our living room/homeschool area. Both kids love LEGOs, but my older son likes to li…

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Why We Hike

"Why do we have to do this hike?", complained my almost-eight-year-old son, his arms drooping by his sides.  We had been hiking for almost two hours, had just conquered a half-mile 500-foot elevation gain, and still faced another mile uphill before reaching the summit.

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My husband, unable to stomach my son's complaints, put our younger daughter in the carrier and charged up the hill.  I took a deep breath and silently asked myself, "Why do we make them hike?"

Walking beside my son at his maddeningl…

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Why You NEED to Take a Day Off (Hint: It's not about self-care)

I just spent the afternoon listening to the legendary author and feminist Gloria Steinem.  Among the topics she addressed was the issue of democratic heterosexual households.  She argued that society has convinced us there are "male" qualities and "female" qualities.  However, when we realize that the "qualities necessary to raise children - patience, nurturing, attention to detail, empathy" - are HUMAN qualities, we'll have taken the first step towards a democratic household.

Why don't many men …

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What Matters In The End

"If it's not my idea, I don't want to do it."

This seems to be my seven-year-old son's motto these days, which is kind of annoying because we're spending the summer in a city with a wealth of world-class museums that I want him to experience.  I know he'll enjoy them once we're there, but transitions have never been his strong suit.

After some trial and error (and many arguments) trying to motivate him to leave the house, I've found a two-part formula that seems to work.  It both gets him excited …

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The Entitlement Myth

A few weeks into his first-grade year, my formerly sweet and relatively cooperative son began acting sassy, cocky, and entitled.  Requests for help were met with groans and eye-rolls.  Limits were countered with sighs and "whatever"s.

We gave him the benefit of a doubt: Surely he was just imitating his older classmates' rude behaviors.  Or maybe this was a misguided attempt at being more independent.  All my friends' children were acting the same way, so it was probably a developmental phase.  Re…

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Rediscovering Motherhood

An American friend and colleague who lives in Asia recently shared with me that her in-laws had moved out of her house.  They had been very involved in raising her children, so I asked if she missed having the help.  She texted back, "No.  I'm forced to be the mom and it's what my kids want and what family is supposed to be."

As I sat staring at her words on my screen, the last seven years of my life - my entire parenthood journey - flashed before my eyes.  I remembered how both times I had a bab…

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