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Jul 23 2014

How Do I Teach My Suburban Kids to be Environmentally Conscious?

By at 4:20 pm

Adamah-1

My husband is vegan, we’re raising our children as vegetarians, and we even started our own vegan cheese company. But I have a confession: I am still woefully ignorant on many food-related environmental issues.

Food labels, GMOs, and the intricacies of recycling and composting intimidate me, yet I want to make educating myself and my children about these issues a priority. I want eco-consciousness ingrained in them from an early age, much like I want them to enjoy physical activities and speak a second language. I know firsthand that it is much, much harder to change your lifestyle and habits later in life. A few years ago, I wagered with my husband that I could stay vegetarian for a summer and lost the bet halfway through when our friends invited us to the best steak house in New York. Actions speak louder than words, especially when you can’t talk with a mouthful of meat!

But the sad fact is, it’s hard for my children to learn eco-friendliness at home. We drive everywhere; we fill our garbage bin to overflowing every week; much of the food on our plates comes wrapped in packages and no longer resembles what it looked like when it first came into being; and we live in the suburbs, shielded from the natural rhythms of the earth. How am I supposed to help them make informed choices when I am not well informed myself? Read the rest of this entry →

Jon Stewart Needs to Talk About Israel

By at 1:53 pm

Jon Stewart, who drew ire for his humorous spin on Israel’s recent intervention in Gaza, aptly demonstrates the real problem with talking about Israel. Maybe it’s time we changed the conversation to Ukraine?

 

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How Do I Tell My Daughter That Our Israel Trip is Cancelled?

By at 10:59 am

passport and airline ticket near computer keyboard

We are canceling our trip to Israel. Even as I say this, I want to be there more than ever. My wife and I debated this decision endlessly and were waiting until the last moment to decide. We did not want to abandon Israel. We wanted to show support by being physically present. We wanted to show support with our tourist dollars. And we desperately wanted to be with our family there.

On the other hand, we did not want to subject our children to the emotional trauma of air raid sirens and running to bomb shelters. We did not want our children to have a negative experience in Israel. Nor did we want to unnecessarily take up space or resources.

It seems the choice has been made for us. As of this writing, the FAA has ordered all US carriers to suspend flights to Israel, the State Department has issued a travel warning suggesting the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel, and multiple airlines have either temporarily or indefinitely suspended their flights to Israel. Read the rest of this entry →

Are My Kids’ Tantrums All My Fault?

By at 10:09 am

Ice-pops

I love those afternoons when I arrive at camp pick-up after a long day of work and my children come running, faces smiling, eager to jump into my arms and share their accomplishments of the day.

Yesterday was not one of those days. Instead, when I arrived at camp for pick-up I found both 5-year-old twins crying.

The older twin is hardly a mystery. He struggles on some days, particularly after a late night, because he no longer gets a mid-day nap. He is also a very picky eater and admittedly not fond of camp food, though I serve a variation of the menu (chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, or hot dogs) every night at dinner and he rarely complains. These factors, combined with the summer heat and too little water throughout the day, make for a cranky little boy. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 22 2014

Why I Don’t Believe in Family Secrets

By at 4:03 pm

family-secrets

Secrets are not good for a healthy family life.

Discretion is. But secrets are not.

I was already in my 30s when one of my closest friends, the daughter of my mother’s best friend, told me that my grandmother had had multiple sclerosis and my own mother had a mild form of the same disorder. I remembered my grandmother being unable to walk, but my mother would never discuss why. If I asked, she’d say, “It doesn’t matter.” Read the rest of this entry →

Kid, It’s Time You Got a Job

By at 2:03 pm

boy using saw at woodshop

Exactly two years ago, I wrote a post about how my kids would be doing nothing all summer long. Our laissez-faire experiment went so well in 2012, that I repeated the lack of structured activity in 2013. I’m a big believer in the notion that boredom is good for children. And if they dare whine about it, I tell them to clean the house.

However, 2014 is shaping up to be a horse of a different color. While my 7-year-old daughter continues to be footloose and fancy-free (though we are systematically working our way thorough the “Disney Princess Cookbook”), my almost 11-year-old son won a grant earlier in the year that allowed him to attend two weeks of computer camp and then a coding conference in England. I’ve already made it clear to him that this is a one-shot deal and he should enjoy every single moment of it.

But then, there is the issue of my oldest son. He just turned 15, finishing his freshman year of high school. Previously, my husband left the dispensation of our kids’ summer schedule to me. This year, he informed our older son that he expected him to get a job. Read the rest of this entry →

What They Bring Home From Camp

By at 11:48 am

sleeping-boy

The voice mail came in while we were swimming. It was Saturday, the afternoon before Noah’s sleepaway camp ended.

Infirmary. 100.7 fever.

“Do you want to get him tonight or have us keep him here until pickup tomorrow?” the nurse asked. Read the rest of this entry →

My Son’s First Jewish Friend

By at 10:04 am

baseball-bat

My son made his first Jewish friend. His name is Dan, and he’s got dark curly hair and wears glasses.

Charlie was so excited when he told me about him. “He celebrates Hanukkah, Mom, just like us! And he has a shirt with Hebrew writing on it.”

He continued to talk about Dan for weeks afterward. “Dan hit a home run at recess, Dan is better than me at math, Dan brings peanut butter fudge for dessert.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 21 2014

Ask a Sleep Coach: My Baby’s Day Sleep is Only Getting Worse

By at 3:39 pm

Sleeping-baby

Dear Batya,

I hope you can help! My 7.5-month-old’s sleep has been steadily worsening since he was about 6 months old.

In the day, he has always had a hard time napping and sleeps with quite a lot of effort on our part–45 to 50 minutes, 2 to 3 times per day. Up until a month ago, he would nap in his crib in our bedroom. Then I started to nurse & nap with him in our bed and try extend sleep by nursing when he would wake. We both really love this, although it only works once in a while at making the naps longer.  Read the rest of this entry →

When Your Worst Parenting Fear Comes True

By at 2:31 pm

Worst-parenting-fear

Since the moment I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I have been terrified of stairs. My anxiety about falling down a flight of stairs peaked after my first daughter was born, and looking back, I see now that it was just one symptom of the post-partum anxiety I didn’t realize I was suffering at the time.

In the mental health world we refer to them as “intrusive thoughts”–those upsetting or disturbing images that seem to come out of nowhere. They’re a hallmark of depression and anxiety, and in the weeks and months after each of my daughters were born, they came on fast and furious. Most of the intrusive images involved one of my girls dying; I wrote them off as yet another symptom of becoming a neurotic Jewish mother. But I just couldn’t escape my fear of the wooden staircase inside our house. I was terrified of falling down it while holding one of the girls; I obsessively donned a pair of thick cotton socks with rubber grips on the soles each time I had to walk downstairs, even in the heat of summer in a house without air-conditioning. I would walk slowly and carefully, taking each stair as if it was covered in ice.

It’s been four years since my second daughter was born, and the anxiety has dwindled down to average Jewish mother levels, on the high end of neurotic. But I’m still scared of the stairs. I still walk slowly down them, and I can’t stop myself from reminding the girls to slow down, look ahead, and pay attention each time they step off the top step. I always feel ridiculous for doing it, of course, and I try to tell myself to calm down and stop nagging, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut. Read the rest of this entry →

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