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Aug 20 2014

Camp Director Stefan Teodosic Left Finance for Jewish Camping & Never Looked Back

By at 11:23 am

stefan-camper-pic

Stefan Teodosic is the executive director of Beber Camp, Perlman Camp, and the Perlman Retreat Center. Stefan started his career in finance, but decided to change paths on September 11, 2001 after witnessing the World Trade Center collapse. Stefan agreed to sit down with us and tell us why his camps are different from all other camps.

1. Before becoming a camp director, you worked for American Express and were blocks away from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Can you talk about how that day ultimately helped you decide to change paths?

Since I was 16, I knew that I wanted to be a camp director, as it was the single most impactful experience I had growing up. Through college, business school, and my career, I couldn’t shake the idea of being in Jewish camping full time. It bubbled to the surface at times–thoughts about going back to school to get another degree, taking vacation time to work with teens at my old camp, and even thinking about quitting–but it was never more than that to be honest. Read the rest of this entry →

Why This Dad Smothers His Daughter with Love

By at 10:07 am

bubbles

Although I’m not a mother nor a daughter myself, I enjoyed Jordana Horn’s recent review of “The Jewish Daughter Diaries” in her post, “Do Jewish Moms Smother Their Kids With Too Much Love?” While some of the book’s authors’ have their gripes with overbearing, meddlesome mothers, I’d like to repeat Horn’s statement that you can never love a child too much.

My mother says I was a very sensitive child. She guesses that it was because I was gay. That might very well be true, but I do know that my parents’ response to my sensitivity wasn’t right. In their attempt to help me develop thicker skin, they didn’t kiss or hug me, or tell me that they loved me.

And I felt unloved. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2014

Ever Since My Health Scare, I’m Terrified of Having Kids

By at 4:12 pm

Health-scar

I’ve always wanted to have kids, three girls to be exact. I’ve had names picked out since the age of 12 (OK, so those names have changed several times, but still, I’ve been choosing names for what seems like forever). On my 21st birthday, I remember shocking my dad with the news that having kids would come first–even before the family business.

Fast forward to now. At the age of 32 and recently married, I’m not sure I want kids anymore.

What happened? Read the rest of this entry →

Kveller Kids Say the Darnedest Things… About Death

By at 2:31 pm

Darnedest-things

Kids are so unknowingly profound, if only adults would listen!

We’d like to announce a weekly series in which you get to kvell about the clever, cute, and just plain hilarious things that come out of your pint-size professor’s mouth. Each week, we’ll ask on Facebook about the funniest thing you heard all week, and you’ll send us the name, age, and quote of your child. The top three will get featured here on the blog–so start writing them down.

The top three comments from last week were strangely morbid. Check it out: Read the rest of this entry →

My Kids Are Pretty Much Average

By at 12:01 pm

c-plus

A few weeks ago, I was at a 3-year-old’s birthday party, and I put my 6-month-old son down next to another baby. The other child effortlessly rolled across the blanket, while my son, a few weeks younger, mortified his mama by crying, in place, on his tummy. Oh no, I wondered, is my child not going to be a gifted athlete? Maybe he won’t be as flexible as his brother? Are these early signs of some kind of processing delay? I panicked. Will he be popular, or an outcast among fast-moving little boys? And the terror took hold.

Have you had that fear about your child? The fear that bubbles up when you notice they are not particularly good at singing, drawing or academics? You retaliate by frantically signing them up for soccer, karate, and music classes. You become certain that if you keep trying to find it, the prodigy in your child will emerge. You talk to other parents, trying to gain reassurance that all children are special at something. The other parents may even soothe your anxiety by pointing out how smart your child is because he knows 50 more words than the average kid his age. You placate your own worries by repeating that old idea that everybody has a special talent they excel at. Surely your child will find theirs at some point.

At the birthday party, my friends pointed out the benefits of a kid who doesn’t move: fewer worries about baby-proofing the house and those lurking dangers at the park. They referenced other children we knew who didn’t move until after a year (oh gosh!) but who were doing just fine on the playground now. Many also pointed out that while he may not be able to move, my son was so gorgeous and smart.

Read the rest of this entry →

How Can I Be a Happy Mother During the More Difficult Times?

By at 11:03 am

SrulikB&W

There are two sentences that have impacted my parenting philosophy more than anything else I’ve read about raising children. In “The Art of Loving” by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, he writes, “The Promised Land is described as ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Milk is the symbol of the first aspect of love, that of care and affirmation. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it and the happiness in being alive. Most mothers are capable of giving ‘milk,’ but only a minority of giving ‘honey,’ too. In order to be able to give honey, a mother must not only be a ‘good mother,’ but a happy person.”

I didn’t have children when I read those words for the first time, and yet, I made a promise to myself that when I did, I would make an effort to be happy, no matter what life threw my way.

A few short weeks after I encountered Fromm’s writing, my then-boyfriend brought up the idea of starting a family, and before we realized the enormity of our decision, there was a wonderful baby boy in our lives. Read the rest of this entry →

Yes, You Can Be Too Close to Your Mom

By at 10:01 am

too-close

I have worked with retired “senior” adults for many years. The other day a woman I had never met came in sobbing about the loss of her mother over a year ago. This was not the first time I have been surprised by the intensity of grief experienced by an older woman over the death of a very, very old mother.

But it did pose the question: Can you be too close to your mother?

A few weeks ago, the same thing happened with another woman in my office. Years earlier, someone else told me she had never married or fulfilled her potential because her mother insisted that she take care of her until she died. I recall a man who slept on the floor next to his old mother’s bed in case she needed immediate attention during the night. She lived a long life and by the time he got up off that floor, he didn’t have much else. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 18 2014

My Son Smashed His Head Open & Transformed into “King Gauze”

By at 3:09 pm

Gauze

Last spring, my son managed to smash his head into the corner of a bookcase, requiring staples. Upon returning home from urgent care, with his head wrapped in gauze, he gleefully declared that he was “King Gauze.” I seized on the moment–finally, here was my chance to get him involved in my passion: playwriting.

I belong to a playwriting group that sometimes meets at our home. Therefore, my son has known the majority of my fellow playwrights since he was born. And, as he’s gotten older, he’s wanted to stay downstairs to listen to the work being read out loud, none of which would be appropriate for his ears. He has been frustrated by this and by the fact that I won’t let him read any of my work, either.

But with the emergence of “King Gauze,” we agreed that we would write a play the next day about King Gauze in Gauzeland. And so we did. Not a whole play but three scenes. His cast of characters was enormous and grew as we continued to write. The play took place at the birth of Prince Gauze. King and Queen Gauze were being visited by the whole town, along with some weavers (only later did it occur to me that the weavers idea came from “The Emperor Has No Clothes”). My son dictated the dialogue and I showed him how we were writing stage directions and how different characters said their lines. Read the rest of this entry →

Mom Invents App to Make Teen Call Her Back

By at 1:53 pm

Teen-cell-app

It’s the oldest trick in the book. Teenagers see “Mom” appear on the caller ID and they forward the call to voicemail–with the cellphone that Mom paid for! Well, one fed-up New York mama came up with a pretty sweet solution.

When her son refused to return her calls, Sharon Standifird worked with developers to create an app called “Ignore No More” that shuts down a kid’s phone unless he calls mom back and gets a password.

If you’re already worrying about how you’ll ever stay two steps ahead of your kids’ social media and Skype usage when they hit their teens, then this app is a godsend. “Ignore No More” is available for $1.99 on Google Play and is coming to iPhones soon. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Are Temples So Empty Over the Summer?

By at 11:53 am

Pews

The temple I recently joined offers fabulous Tot Shabbat programs throughout the year, but none during the summer. And recently, over lunch with a local mom friend and fellow member, I casually mentioned that since we hadn’t been to services in a while, we were thinking about going before the summer ended. Her response: “Oh, nobody goes to temple during the summer. The place is empty.”

I’ve heard this of other temples too and wonder why it is that come summertime, so many people tend to put temple-going on hold. Granted, some families do go away, but most don’t have the luxury of taking a two-month-long summer vacation, which means they’re probably in town for a good part of the summer but either making other Saturday morning plans or simply choosing to stay away.

Now, as a once-a-month temple-goer at best, trust me, I’m not judging. But I do find it odd. Children are generally encouraged to keep up with reading and certain skills over the summer so that they’re not rusty come the start of the school year. Why doesn’t the same hold true for Judaism? Read the rest of this entry →

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