Book Feature: Because I Said So

The Pranayama breathing exercises I learned in the few yoga classes I went to are starting to prove to be really useful.  They help restore my emotional and mental balance in this harried and frenetic world known as single motherhood.  Because I’m basically going at it alone, I need all the help I can need- both physical and virtual.

In the virtual aspect, I have found something to hold my hand and ease the parenting weight off my shoulders.     Because I Said So: Life in the Mom Zone by Annie Oeth, which was published in April 2014, has become my go-to book whenever I feel the pressure of parenting taking its toll on me.

In this book, solo mom Annie presents various stories of laughter, tears, worries and fears which are all associated with being a parent.  Each story tells of how mothers manage to find strength, love and humor even in the direst of situations.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

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KIDS IN CHURCH

There was a time of retribution like no other in my growing-up years. It was when church let out.

At no other time in no other day did more children get more beatings, spankings, whippings and whatnot than after church.

Now let me preface this by saying our parents were not the “spare the rod” types. If you loved your children, the thinking back then was you would get to the seat of the problem. Rapidly. There were no time-outs back then. We kids would have loved those.

I am not an advocate of spanking children because I think there are more effective ways of communicating right and wrong than hitting. That sentence would have been laughed off the street in the South circa the early 1970s, though. And if one was to call one of those hiney-warmings child abuse, then I guess a whole town’s worth of parents would have been locked up. [Read more…]

Reflective Listening: Effective Parenting Skill

No matter how bored out of my wits I am, you would never find me talking to a wall.  I will not waste my intellectual diatribes on a non-responsive entity.  Same holds true for our kids.

We all know that our children adore us so much that it greatly matters to them what we think about what they have to say.  But how can we effectively give them our opinion if in the first place, we don’t know how to really listen to them?  Even a 6-year old does have some useful insight about the world around him, and it’s really important to him that his parents listen.  This is where reflective listening comes in.

Reflective listening means reflecting what the other person has just said.  It may entail verbalizing or paraphrasing what you’ve just heard, in order to let the speaker know that you understand what he’s trying to communicate with you.

This is an important parenting skill to learn, as this will help your kids open up to you more.  They will feel more comfortable expressing their feelings if they know that you won’t turn a deaf ear towards them.

So, how do we actually do this reflective listening with our children?  If for instance, you see your little girl screaming her head off, you can calmly ask her what’s bothering her.  You can use magic phrases such as, “So, you’re saying…”, or, “It seems to me like…”  If she tells you she’s angry at her friend for not wanting to play with her, you can say something like, “So, you’re furious at her for leaving you out of the game?”  You get the picture.

The key is in genuinely showing interest in what your kid has to say by letting her know that you understand her.  By expressing empathy, your kid becomes more comfortable opening up to you, and consequently feels secure that her mom supports her.

Communication, they say, is a two-way street.  We can’t expect to always make our kids listen to us if we don’t know how to listen in return.  We can make our kids feel that we truly understand their feelings by reflecting back what they have to say.  This will help build an atmosphere of trust between parent and child, and it will prove to be an invaluable tool as they grow up.