fear

By coddling our kids, we're doing them more harm than good




latchkey kid

Are there still latchkey kids these days or have they gone undercover in the age of helicopter parenting and our increased paranoia about kids’ safety?

I used to be a latchkey kid.

As a matter of fact, I remember walking to and from school alone, sometimes with friends of the same age, as young as eight years old. I also remember spending many days and evenings on my own over the summers, after school, going to the park, the corner store for candy, riding my bike. All my friends did it too. My parents were working, making a living. I was fine.

While this occurred in the not too distant past, it wasn’t that long ago where kids other than myself and my friends were afforded the responsibility and provided the trust to similarly live their lives. In doing so, they were able to gain confidence in their abilities. This often included walking to and from home to school and back, to the corner store, or somewhere within the vicinity close (or close enough) to home.

Now, it’s considered nothing short of child abuse to allow a kid under the age of 12 or 13 to walk anywhere on their own. Don’t believe me? Just think of Lenore Skenazy who was publicly vilified for allowing her nine-year-old son to take the train alone, or Danielle Meitiv, whose children Rafi and Dvora aged 10 and six respectively, were taken into protective custody by the authorities after being spotted walking a few blocks home from the local park.

Sadly, this event is all too common when it comes to society’s perception of what we should or shouldn’t be allowing our children to do. Despite a long history of children having considerable responsibilities at much younger ages than they do now, we have, strangely, become more worried about our kids’ abilities to fend for themselves in today’s world. 

There was a time where kids were allowed to be kids, which meant going out to play and coming home when dinner was on the table. The delta between this edict and the return time could be as much as three or four hours. Oh, the freedom!

“There was a time where kids were allowed to be kids, which meant going out to play and coming home when dinner was on the table.”

Today, the thought of a child walking home alone, letting themselves into their house and staying put until mom or dad gets home puts some parents into a state of hyperventilation. I’m guilty of hyper-parenting as well but also realize that I’m not doing my children any favours by passing my paranoia on to them. 

As with many parents, I’ve bought into the paranoia about the dangers of life to some degree. Touted on the evening news, online and via social media, one would think that the world is coming to an end, at least in terms of kids’ abilities to be…well…kids. These days, parents face a daily struggle to provide their children with the right balance of protection while still affording them the freedom that they require to become confident, secure adults. It’s a difficult balancing act for sure, and one that’s not easily managed.

Yet, what has changed in our society, really? Has human nature - both good and bad - really gotten worse in the past 30-40 years?  Not much. In fact, there are still the same threats that we had so many years ago, if not more. “The Boogeyman” lived then as he does now; we’re just more aware of him, thanks to Professor Google.

We’ve become a society of incredibly fearful parents, much to the detriment of our kids. As a result, our children are the ones who are suffering, both from lack of experience and from general distrust. The thought of exerting any semblance of independence is quickly followed by waves of anxiety, distress and “stranger danger.”

And so, those who allow their kids any degree of freedom or responsibility are made to feel like they have somehow failed in their roles as parents. How can this be a good thing?

The very things that we hope to see develop within our children are being stifled by our (often) unsubstantiated fears of the unknown. Independence, self-assuredness, fearlessness - these qualities are left to wither and sometimes die due to our hesitance to loosen the apron strings and let our kids experience real life. While we are stalwartly determined to not let our our most precious assets venture too far beyond our purview, we are, at the same time, stifling the very real qualities that we’d hope to see in our children as they move towards adulthood.

This fact alone should give us pause to revisit what we are teaching our kids about the world in which they live. After all - our job as parents is to give them the skills to survive in the real world, to arm them with knowledge and, perhaps most importantly - provide them with confidence. All of these must-have attributes will never be realized if we continue to coddle them and refuse to let them venture beyond our line of sight.

There are still “latchkey kids” out there, walking themselves home from school and letting themselves into the house to wait for their parent or parents to come home. It’s safe to say that these children are likely less afraid, more self-assured and likely more responsible than their coddled counterparts. They’re also, sadly, more likely to be the brunt of our collective pity and their parents the recipients of our collective scorn, as indicated by the reaction to Ms. Skenazy and Ms. Meitiv indicates.

In today’s world, Helicopter Parenting is the the norm, not the exception. In spite of this fact, Latchkey Kids still exist; they’ve just gone undercover, having been forced to operate in the shadows as a result of our over-protective and fearful society. They’re in hiding with no clear indication of when they can come out of the shadows to lead the way for their peers who would likely gain so much more from the shared knowledge than they would lose. Yes, learning to be independent and following the lead of those who bravely do so, often because there’s no other choice, would be inspiring, to say the least.

For these parents who either have no choice or have the choice but have chosen to teach their kids the ropes; for those who send their children out with a key in their backpack and who say a little prayer as they leave their children to make their way in the world, I salute you. For you know  and act upon what all of us “Nervous Nellies” secretly know but chose to ignore: that giving our kids the freedom and responsibility to trust their own judgement and abilities is one of the greatest things we can do to help them grow into highly-confident, well-functioning adults.

Perhaps it’s time that we collectively reconsider the effects of our parental protectiveness and look to another alternative that will ultimately help, rather than hurt our children in the long run.

 

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

 

 

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IN THE NEWS: Your Baby Monitor Can Be Hacked

by Samantha on August 1, 2015

Who's listening to your baby? Parents urged to take precautions with monitor technology

 

monitor

Who’s listening to your baby?

Are you safe? Is your baby safe?

The intersection of technology and parenting continues to expand as we increasingly rely on digital tools to make our roles as parents easier. We use tech more than ever to live our daily lives, from watching our babies to entertaining them; from reading to our kids to monitoring them (texting and cell phones). It all seems great, right? Granted, the convenience provided by technology can’t be denied, but there is a dark side to its usage as well.

As hacking becomes more commonplace in our daily lives, the instances of our digital tools being compromised will also increase. We’ve seen a rise of incidents where personal information has been hacked via email, cell phones and cloud accounts, but did anyone really anticipate that baby monitors would be a target too?

It’s scary to think that our most precious assets could be open to being spied on, secretly viewed, spoken to by strangers, or worse.

I recently provided my thoughts on this disturbing trend in an interview on Global News. You can watch the full segment below. There are also some simple tips that parents can follow to make sure that their babies remain safe and secure.

What you do to avoid hacking via baby monitors or similar devices:

1) Educate Yourself - Make sure that you fully understand the technology that you’re using, especially in their children’s rooms.

2) Err on the Side of Caution - When in doubt, don’t. If you have any concerns or misgivings about the technology behind any particular device, don’t use it until you are sure about it’s security, or chose another option altogether.

3) Choose a Secure Password - Don’t make the password for your device too easy. Remember to use a login that is not easily-guessed, that is changed frequently, and that includes a non-sensical string of letters (both upper and lower case) and numbers. For more information on how to choose a secure password, visit this page: How to Create a Secure Password.

4) Limit the Use of Devices - The less amount of devices used to monitor our kids, the less likely hackers will be able to successfully gain access where they don’t belong.

Global News Segment - Baby Monitor Hacked!


 

What other tips do you have for parents who are concerned about being hacked? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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VIDEO: Coping Tips For New Moms

by Samantha on November 8, 2014

Simple advice on new baby care


baby feet

Having a new baby can be a shock. From diapers to spit-up, not to mention the lack of sleep, there are so many things that to consider.

The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to make the transition to parenting easier.

I wrote about some of these tips here:

New Baby Care - Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

You can also view the Downright Domestic segment on this topic where I provide advice here:

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

Do you have some advice about how to make the transition to parenting easier? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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The Sting of Disinheritance

by Samantha on July 1, 2014

Do We Owe Our Kids Our Money After We're Gone?


Sting

You think that kids of celebrities have it easy? Think again.

Sting’s surprising announcement that he’s not leaving any of his vast fortune to his children was a shock to many. How could this multimillionaire leave his kids to have to *gasp* work for a living? It just didn’t seem right.

According to the rock legend, his decision comes from his personal philosophy about children not having things handed to them on a silver platter, even if  - as in the case of his own progeny - they come from Rock royalty. The rock superstar says that he will continue spending the money he’s earned as he has been doing all along, paying his staff and allocating it whenever and wherever he darn well pleases. He maintains that he’s spending his money now, not saving it up in a tidy sum to be disbursed amongst his children in the event of his death.

The news has gotta sting for his six children who are likely very aware of their father’s estimated $300 million net worth. After all, they’ve probably had more than comfortable lives as a result of their fathers’ vast income, in spite of what Sting maintains.

Even so, the idea of pending poverty or, at best, the life of a “working stiff” must be sobering considering the fact that the family home is an Elizabethan Lake mansion located on a 60 acre estate near Stonehenge. The obvious question that crosses many of our minds is “why?

Why would someone of such considerable means choose to make a decision that flies in the face of convention and leave his kids with bupkus?

Good-old mean-spiritedness, stinginess and general bad parenting attributes have been suggested as the reasons for Sting’s decision. But is he really in the wrong?

My initial reaction to his news was probably a common one: that his choice regarding money is hurting his children in more ways than one. Of course, they must feel incredibly pained, knowing that their father has consciously chosen to exclude them from a future windfall following his death. Having the knowledge that a parent has actively and purposefully decided to limit financial comfort for their children and instead, relegate the kids to a life of working for a living seems a tad harsh, particularly when the parent is of considerable means.

Yet, upon further reflection, it seems that Mr. Sumner has a point.

It would be very easy for his children to kick back and chill, knowing full well that regardless of their success in life or lack thereof, they’d be driving down “Easy Street” (likely in a customized and really expensive luxury vehicle) once old Dad had kicked the bucket. In many situations where incredible wealth is a foregone conclusion, this is more commonly the behaviour that kids of the well-to-do display, sadly. After all - why bother working hard and making an effort to achieve something in your life - at least financially - when a monetary windfall is a matter of course?

Not so for the children of Sting, however, as he had apparently advised his kids of their lack of inheritance early on. “They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate,” he explained.

As a result, all of his children have grown up knowing that they would not be handed an automatic ticket to la dolce vita and have planned accordingly. By most accounts, they are doing well.

Did the knowledge that daddy’s money would not automatically be disbursed to them give the kids more incentive to work hard and achieve something on their own? Perhaps. But, more importantly, one of parenthood’s most important lessons - that in the real world, nothing is handed to us on a silver platter - was demonstrated by Sting’s actions. In other words, the rock superstar prepared his kids for one of the harsh reality of life: no pain, no gain.

The fact of the matter is that without the solid values of good old-fashioned hard work, focus and intestinal fortitude that result in a strong character, parents are leaving their kids ill-prepared for life’s challenges. Living a life unfettered by the day-to-day hurdles that most of us experience may sound ideal but the reality is that those who have been given this “gift” have also been presented with a disadvantage as well. We all know that when the going gets tough, whether personally or professionally, that’s when we need to draw upon our inner strengths that have been cultivated over the years. Working hard, sometimes struggling, and building a thicker skin gives us the toughness that we require when life doesn’t go as planned.

For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Except, that is, if you’re the child of a mega-millionaire. Then, what’s often required is very little as you reap the benefits of your parents’ hard work without lifting nary a finger. Kids in these circumstances are very often, sadly, unprepared for hard times or worse - they may never gain the emotional strength that results from the difficult life challenges that so many of us face.

Understood: Sting’s situation is atypical as most of us could only hope to earn $300 million in our lifetimes. But the point being made is still the same. The value and importance of hard work is something that all children should be taught; it is perhaps more pressing that children of the very wealthy learn these principles at an early age. Sting may not be leaving his children his earthly financial possessions but ironically, what he’s giving them is far more valuable. The lessons learned from his decision are beyond any price tag that even a man worth $30 million or more could afford.

Harsh? Perhaps. A lesson learned? Absolutely.

Do we owe our kids our money after we’re gone? No. What we owe them are the skills and abilities to navigate life successfully and (hopefully) happily. Money is not necessarily part of the equation.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here: Sting is Right to Deny His Kids a Big Inheritance

 

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 Image courtesy of www.sting.com, photo credit: Kevin Mazur

 

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New Baby Care - Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

by Samantha on January 26, 2014


new baby

For many of us who have been in the parenting world for a while, it’s tough to remember those days when you were counting down to when your new arrival would enter the world. For new moms-to-be, the stress of having everything “just so,” and being prepared is considerable. Just the thought of having a baby to care for is, alone, a daunting proposition.

From breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, to Ferberize or not to Ferberize it’s no wonder that expectant moms are dealing with serious amounts of anxiety as they await their new arrival. The good news is that we as a species have been having babies for millennia and the reality is that it doesn’t need to be as complicated as we’re lead to believe. Babies’ needs are simple - they need food, shelter and love (in the form of attention), and that’s basically it. Add a few items like a soother, a special blanket and perhaps a bouncy chair you’d be surprised at how content they can be.

Once you get past the shock of childbirth, you can and will realize that you’re more than able to handle it - and then some. Follow some of these simple tips below and treasure those special moments with your new bundle of joy.

New Baby Care - Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

1) Newborns don’t need much – Don’t go overboard buying baby layette items other than a few onesies, sleepers, diapers, wipes, and a couple changes of clothes. For the first few weeks, you will not need a lot of clothes - guaranteed. A few alternates that can be put on after baby spits up, and will tide you over until the laundry is done is really all you need. All of the other stuff is extra.

2)  Catch sleep whenever you can – Sleep is a premium and you never know when you’re going to get it so sleep whenever you can. This includes sleeping when the baby sleeps and doing “shifts” with your significant other, if possible.

3)Trust your instincts – You know best because you’re the mom, right? Your “gut instinct is there for a reason.” If something feels right or wrong, it probably is, so trust your gut and act accordingly.

4) Limit visitors – Well-wishers are great but they can be a stress for new moms. Feeling like you have to entertain when you’re exhausted and the house is a mess is too much to bear. Limit visits to only the immediate family for the first while after baby is born and focus on your own new family during   this precious time.

5) Get out of the house – Don’t stay in, as tempting as it may be. This is particularly the case when you’ve just come home with a new baby and you’re feeling stressed and anxious. Bundle up the little one and go for a walk, or if you don’t want to venture far, at least go outside on the front porch or step. The fresh air and outdoors will make you feel revitalized.

6) Cleaning can wait – The house won’t fall apart if you don’t clean it as often as you’d like once the baby is born. Being a mom is hard enough; don’t add to your stress. Clean when you can and focus on the baby. If unexpected visitors show up and the house isn’t spotless, too bad. It’s their problem, not yours.

7) Stay hydrated and nourished – You’ll be better prepared to take care of your baby if you’re in good health and well fed. Don’t forget to eat! Drink lots of fluids as well, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You need that extra water in order to nourish your child.

8) Accept help – When someone offers to do something for you, accept. If they want to clean, cook or babysit, say “yes” and be thankful for their kindness. Don’t second-guess yourself or feel guilty. People really do want to help, particularly when there’s a new baby involved, so take them up on it and let them take over some of the chores.

9) Lower the bar – You have a new baby. Don’t expect to do everything you were able to do before. Things take longer with little ones around so accept that and take it easy. The house may bet a bit more messy, laundry may pile up…accept that this is the norm and you’re not expected to be “Housecleaner of the Year” when you’ve got a newborn in tow. Let things go, focus on your child and worry about the dusting when the baby is a bit older.

10) Reach out to other new moms – Don’t isolate yourself! Having a new baby is a wonderful thing but can also be very daunting and isolating, in some cases. Find a new moms group or similar in your area and attend playgroups or meetings where you can discuss common experiences and concerns. Just having the support and understanding of others in the same position can do wonders  for your state of mind.

VIDEO: Coping Tips For New Moms

What additional tips and advice would you give to new moms? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Image courtesy of www.sheknows.com

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The Top 10 Signs That You’re Raising Boys

August 29, 2013

If you have boys, you’ll probably understand. There are certain things that part and parcel of the experience. Superheroes, toilet seats and minor “accidents” figure prominently in your day-to-day activities. “Bath” is a dirty word (pun intended). It’s all play, all the time. “Frogs, snails and puppy-dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of” […]

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Land(line) Locked - Do Parents Really Need a Landline?

July 14, 2013

I have a security blanket and it’s my land line. Quaint, I know, but I just can’t seem to give it up. After all, I have young children at home and, well, you know - what if there’s an emergency? Having grown up in the Jurassic Era, it just seems normal to have a land […]

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Over-scheduled Kids and Parental Guilt

June 14, 2013

Soccer practice, Ballet then Gymnastics. Hockey, Little League and Karate. Whatever the sport or activity of choice, it may very well be too much. Our kids are over-worked, over-scheduled and overly-exhausted. In our frenzy to be the best parents who raise the best and most successful kids, we’ve thrown out the baby with the bath […]

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Monday Musings - What’s the Hardest Part of Being a Parent?

February 11, 2013

What’s the hardest part of being a parent? If you ask this question to anyone who has had the experience of being called “Mom” or “Dad,” you will get a variety of different answers. While many of us revel in the amazing and precious moments that parenting provides to us, we can’t deny that it’s […]

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It’s the End of the World As We Know It - And Our Kids Will Be Fine

December 5, 2012

This blog post will self-destruct in 15 days. That’s if you believe all of the hype about the Mayan prophecy. Apparently, the world, as we know it, will come to an end. It’s over, folks. It’s the end of the world as we know it; I feel fine but many kids don’t. For the record, […]

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