Parenting

Young Women/Youth Parenting

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in Parenting | 0 comments

Although in past generations and in some cultures, childbearing occurs at a very young age, in Western culture there is a strong bias against people becoming parents early in life.

A number of factors are associated with this bias: ideas about lack of maturity and experience, lost opportunities to complete academic education, and low earning potential because of limited formal education.

The picture often presented is one of young parents feeling bored and trapped. The other side of the picture, which is less often presented, is of a different life sequence in which teen parents have more energy for parenting and later go back to complete their education when they are more likely to appreciate it and more clear about career goals.

Although feelings of being bored and trapped can occur for parents of any age, young parents are more vulnerable to these feelings because of the contrast with the freedom and exploration available to many of their peers.

A peer network of other parents can provide an antidote to these difficulties. Enough help with childcare to allow young parents to continue a life outside of parenting can offer relief, as well.

Some of the biases against parenting at a young age have to do with associated problems, such as poverty and instability of relationships, that could occur at any age and may not be relevant to particular parents. Rather than conceptualizing and generalizing parenting by persons of a “younger” age as problematic, it may be more useful to identify specific problems and abilities that are unique to particular parents.

If you are a young parent or the parent of young parents, here are some questions that you might consider:

Questions

  1. What does being a parent/grandparent at this particular time in your life offer that might not be available at other times?
  2. If you keep the knowledge of this advantage in your awareness, how will that make a difference?
  3. If you think about your whole life, are there important things that you are putting on hold? How can you keep dreams and plans of those things alive for your future?
  4. Which people support and find joy in your parenting at this time in your life? Does it make a difference to spend more time with them?
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Some Questions for Grandparents About Parenting

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in Parenting | 0 comments

Grandparents, Betty and Ernie, are exhausted as they baby-sit, chauffeur, and cook for their granddaughter at the request of their daughter, who became a parent at the age of 45. They say nothing of their exhaustion because they so much want to help. Linda is bewildered and hurt when her parents finally declare they have a life of their own and are no longer available to baby-sit on a regular basis for their new grandson.

Randy doesn’t tell his parents when their granddaughter is ill even though he and Myra could use their help, because he doesn’t want to deal with their worrying.

Although people often talk about how much easier it is to be a grandparent than a parent — you can spoil the child, but not have ongoing responsibility for her — it is often difficult to find a role that works. Grandparents who assume the authority they were used to as parents may be viewed as trying to take over. Grandparents who wait to see what is wanted, can be seen as uninvolved.

What can help? Grandparents may want to try asking new parents what they would like, what they may need, making suggestions and attending to how they are received, and always remembering that your children will probably not do things as you did them.

Questions

  1. What do you most hope for in your relationship with your grandchild?
  2. What has happened so far that contributes to that goal?
  3. In establishing this relationship what have been the effects on your relationship with your child and his or her partner (if they have one)? Are these effects what you intended?
  4. How might you get what you want with both your children and grandchildren?
  5. What do you appreciate in your child as a parent? Does he or she know that?
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Ideas About Being a Single Parent

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in Parenting | 0 comments

The prevailing idea of the two-parent family makes it difficult for single parents to feel legitimate. A married couple, in which one partner does essentially all of the parenting and the other works 70 hours a week, collapsing at home between jobs, is seen as legitimate. A single parent, involving her family with other families, a church community, and a neighborhood is somehow found lacking. Don’t you think there is something a little bit crazy about this idea?

Most single parents didn’t plan to be single parents but found themselves in that role or chose it as a relationship changed. Countless single mothers are invited into guilt because of society’s idea that “a boy needs his father” even though they may have ended the relationship because their partners were abusive to they and their sons.

Single fathers are often given the message that they are incomplete parents and are commonly barraged by invitations to meet women who would make “wonderful mothers.”

Parenting is not an easy job for two partners working together. To many, it would be unimaginable to go it alone, yet many people who planned to be single parents or became single parents find it not only possible, but joyful and rewarding. In lieu of this, we prefer the term “sole parent” rather than single parent. “Single” has so many negative connotations, including only half as good, and failure of not having made the grade.

The word “sole” conjures up something entirely different. It carries recognition of the extraordinary responsibility that these parents face and of the strength necessary to achieve what they achieve.

A second meaning is not hard to discern — “soul.” Soul is about essence, and for persons to refer to themselves as “soul parents” is for them to recognize the “heartfulness” that they provide.

Questions

  1. If you think about yourself as a “sole” parent rather than a “single” parent what comes to light that you can appreciate about yourself?
  2. What are the advantages of sole parenting?
  3. What keeps these advantages hidden?
  4. How is your family part of a larger community?
  5. What does this connection contribute to your child?
  6. What have you done to make this possible?
  7. Are there other steps you would like to take?
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Having Older Parents with Alzheimer’s

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in Parenting | 0 comments

Living with Illness

Sandra was so ashamed of her father she hadn’t even told her best friend what had happened at Easter. She had picked up her father at his apartment to drive him to dinner at her sister’s when she noticed he was squirming in his seat. It reminded her of how her son acted when he needed to go to the bathroom. “Dad,” she had softly spoken to him. “Would you like me to pull over at the next rest stop so you can use the bathroom?” He had huffily replied that he was fine.

At first Sandra decided she had misjudged the situation. She feared that she had blundered. However, a few minutes later, she was convinced he needed to go to the bathroom. She spoke to him three more times and each time he denied he needed to relieve himself. To Sandra’s horror, when they arrived at her sister’s, her father had wet his pants.

Sandra and her sister were slowly beginning to realize that her father had Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that strikes about 4 million Americans. In the mid-1990’s, approximately 19 million Americans report having a family member with Alzheimer’s, and 37 million know someone with the disease. Sandra’s reaction of uncertainty in light of her father’s statements are typical. It is often very difficult at this early stage to recognize, manage, and accept this progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that is the most common form of dementia.

Two weekends later, Sandra was at a party and was introduced to her neighbor Betty’s mother. The older woman was attractively groomed and dressed and Sandra felt a pang of jealousy as she watched the older woman shake hands and chat with the guests. Later in the evening, she spoke to Betty. “Your mother is lovely,” Sandra said.

“Isn’t she? And would you believe,” Betty told Sandra with a sparkle in her eye, “that when she dressed for the party this evening, she put her Depends diaper on her head!”

Astonished, Sandra began to laugh. She and Betty had experiences to share, and she told her what had been happening to her father. Sandra left the party feeling wonderful; sharing with Betty had made her feel a part of a community struggling to make the transition to this new life cycle phase.

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