Please, Oscar, #AskHerMore

What is your favorite part of watching the Oscars? The red carpet? The emcee’s monologue? The winner’s speeches? Or something else?

I have always been drawn to the ‘fashion’ side of the Oscars and seeing who won more than anything else. I never really appreciated how much the fashion part of the telecast limited what women had to offer until several actresses bravely shined a light on it and started the campaign–ask her more (#AskHerMore). Up until the campaign, the questions were always around whose dress, shoes, and jewelry the woman was wearing, and in rare moments, who did her hair. In retrospect, it’s so superficial. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. The ask her more movement is pushing for the media to inquire about the woman herself, her performance, what motivated her, her feelings and what’s important to her about her craft. That’s a very different conversation.

In a world, where outside beauty seems to trump inward beauty in the media, if we don’t rally against it, it will continue to be the case. Before having children, I confided in a friend that I was scared to have a girl, because I didn’t want them to have to deal with all the stuff that comes with it–self-image, self-confidence, worrying constantly about how you look, constantly feeling judged and never being good enough, and all the negative fall out that can result from that. I know this happens for boys as well, but think it has been more subtle for males and front-and-center for women still. Of course, if I had had a girl, I would have been thrilled. It would have forced me to think about how I would help her combat all the negativity so many women have to work through. I do have a niece who is strong and confident. She blows me away with her knowledge and attitude.  She shared with me recently that she liked a particular book because it had a strong female character in the lead role. I was so proud.

For those of you with daughters, sisters, aunts, female cousins, and mothers, what do you wish people knew about them? What questions do you wish they would ask to learn more about her–not what she wears, or how she looks, but what makes her uniquely her?

 

Mom, please!

Have you ever embarrassed your child in public? When did your parent embarrass you as a child? How did it affect you?

My parents are loving people. Growing up they were strict, but loving. Spanking was used to discipline in our house. The threat of a possible spanking typically kept me in line, so thankfully, I cannot remember my parents embarrassing me in a your-going-to-get-a-spanking kind of way in public. Instead, they would let me know a spanking was coming in more private settings (away from others, in the car or house). It was a warning and I had a choice to make—straighten up or get spanked. My decision was easy to make (I would do just about anything to avoid being spanked). I noticed other parents weren’t as considerate and would embarrass their children in front of others. While I hated getting spanked, I was grateful my parents were different. I realized my parents could embarrass me in a different way as I grew older—when they’d brag about me in front of others. I hated it because 1) as a teen I was very self-conscious (aren’t we all?) and I was mortified when attention was put on me, 2) I didn’t feel like the things my parents were sharing were worth bragging about, and 3) I felt utterly unable to stop my parents from what they were doing in fear of embarrassing them (I knew how much I didn’t like it, and assumed they wouldn’t like it either). I definitely didn’t just stand there and take what was happening in these situations. I would attempt to stop my parents mid-sentence. “Mom, please.” “Mom, really. Please stop.” I’d even try the eye roll, and try to make eye contact with my parents friend in an attempt to communicate I’m so sorry, but it never seemed to work.

Now that I have my own children, I’ve been faced with the same challenges my parent went through. We don’t spank in our house, so my boys have never had to fear that as a punishment, however, it makes motivating them to behave that much more challenging. Taking away privileges or a stern talking to works sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t. I feel very challenged in these moments. There is a part of me that would like to vent my frustration at their resistance to adhere to what I’m asking them to do, and I have to catch myself sometimes from not doing this in public (it’s not easy) when they’re acting out around others. A “get in the car NOW” seems to do the trick, they know I’m unhappy with their behavior and it will be better for them to get into the car than not. Still, it’s a challenge.

My boys were in a concert at school. They would be singing a few songs with their classmates. My youngest was eager to participate. My oldest was mortified. “I’m not going,” he said, “and you can’t make me.” At first, my husband and I responded, “Oh yes we can. Don’t you tell us what you are or are not going to do.” That just seemed to make my son dig his heels in deeper. “Nope, I’m not going to do it.” My husband tried reasoning with him. “You’re part of your class…a team. You’re going to let your classmates down if you don’t participate, and that’s going to be embarrassing.” My son simply replied, “No it won’t. Half of them aren’t here anyway, no one is going to notice.” He was right, it was a volunteer concert (not mandatory) so many of his classmates weren’t there. Ugh. The show was going to start soon, and we were nearing the end of our attempts to prompt our son to participate. My husband and I felt strongly he couldn’t “opt-out” of participating, because often in life you can’t do that–you’ll lose a job, or a friend, or an opportunity. My mind was spinning, what else could we do?  And then it occurred to me. “You are going to go up and sing with your class. We are only asking you to go up there to try your best. No one expects perfection.” My son was getting ready to say, “No again” when I cut him off. “If you don’t go, I was pull you up there kicking and screaming if I have to, and that will be embarrassing not only for you, but for me. No one is going to forget that.” He gave me a ‘you wouldn’t’ and then a ‘how could you!’ face, then got up and went with his classmates calmly to the stage. I hated that it had resorted to this, but was glad he was motivated to participate. As his class sang, we could see that our son was enjoying it, he even gave us a ‘thumbs up’ from the stage at one point. Afterwards, he came back to us and in a ‘you-were-right-but-I-hate-admitting-it’ tone shared, “I was so nervous, but I think I did pretty good.”  My husband and I smiled, “You did great.” I shared, “I loved that one song, can we sing it now?” My son looked at me and said, “Mom, please!” I didn’t, of course, (though I was tempted to) but it was fun to see the moment come full circle.

How do you prompt your child to action without embarrassing them?

 

 

 

 

Young Love

Who was your first crush?

The first person I can remember swooning over was Shaun Cassidy. Yes, that Shaun Cassidy. I had a Shaun Cassidy iron-on t-shirt and thought he was absolutely dreamy. I had no idea what I was feeling other than I thought this boy was really handsome, and could sing a catchy tune, and would love it if he felt I was dreamy too. My first, non-fantasy crush was a boy in my third grade class, Brian. He and I had always been friendly to each other, but one day someone came into class, said something mean to me, and Brian defended me. I was smitten.  I was seeing Brian in a new light. He seemed like more than a friend, but someone who cared. I didn’t know what to do with this feeling as an eight-year-old. It faded quickly once Brian decided he wanted to date my classmate, Mallory. I was a little heart-broken, but got over it quickly.

My boys are both interested in other people. My oldest is interested in girls, but not sure what do to with it. Similar to how I was in third grade. There are many myths around what you’re supposed to do, and when you’re supposed to do them, and how you’re supposed to magically figure out how love works. My oldest decided he liked one of his classmates and she would make a good girlfriend because they like the same things and get along. He has taken no action to let her know how he feels. On the flip side, my youngest has no fear around ‘dating.’ He and his classmate even had an ‘engagement’ picnic last year. I have to admit my husband and I were surprised when this happened as we thought he and this girl were just good friends, but  it’s fun to hear him still talk about all the wonderful things they are going to do when they are both 25 including getting married, where they are going to live, what their jobs will be and how many kids they will have. (I have no idea how they came up with this all happening at 25, but it’s really sweet to hear them talk about it).

What do you do with young love?  How do you dip your toe into romance at such a young age? Of course, my husband and I have told the kids that they don’t need to worry about dating for many years, there is no pressure. And if they like someone, the best way to let them know is to tell them. Yes, it can be scary, and yes, you can get rejected, but you’re not going to know if you don’t try. We’ve offered to role play with them to help them figure out how or what they want to say to someone they are interested in. Of course, my youngest doesn’t seem to think he needs much help, since he’s already ‘engaged’, but my oldest does. Fear of looking stupid, being embarrassed, or rejected are holding him back. I think most of us can understand how he feels. Young love is hard.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, there is pressure to “show how much you love someone” or at least, identify someone you like. That’s a lot for anyone at any age. My oldest isn’t ready to reveal his feelings for anyone just yet. I hope with my husband and my help, we can give him the courage that he needs to try when he’s ready.

How did you experience young love?  How are you helping your child navigate feelings for another person?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

Super Bowl Sunday: Go Team!

Who are you rooting for today in the big game?

It’s been fun hearing my kids evaluate who they want to root for and why. They have sympathy for the Broncos because the Seahawks (our favorite team) beat them in the Super Bowl two years ago, and Peyton Manning is a good player. They like the Panthers because they’ve been dominant, they beat the Seahawks (we still wish we could get that first half back again), and Cam Newton gave us the ‘dab.’ So who do you root for?

My oldest had a philosophy when he was younger that didn’t disappoint…root for the team that’s going to win. Hard to argue with that, especially when you don’t have anything vested in either team. Of course, it will be fun to watch the commercials and eat some unhealthy food during the game, but ultimately it will be about us having some time together as our own team (family) and doing what many of us do here in America on Sunday afternoons, watch football.

How does your child decide who they root for? How do you, as a family, enjoy watching the game?

Go Team!