Rules for Raising Boys Who Respect Women

Happy International Women’s Day! I hope you find the time to celebrate the unflappable influence and power of women today, whether it’s at home, in the work place or amongst friends.

About iwd

I’m going to be frank with you: I had an incredible upbringing, however, I loathed the way my generation and culture expected women to sit back and let “the man” do all the work. I was told that I had to be ladylike, reserved, passive and to be a follower. Like so many of my peers, once I got older, I wasn’t having any of that.

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As an English Major, I remember a turning point in college. I took a Women’s Lit class, taught by an incredible professor, who shared authors who overcame the impossible and unthinkable. These literary masterpieces were always poignant and memorable. Women have always been strong; women have always had voices; women have always been at the forefront in their own way.

As a mother to two impressionable little boys, it’s my job to ensure that my little humans go on to contribute to society in such a way that makes a difference. It’s critical that they respect and treat women as equal peers, unlike the way we’ve seen over the years. Here are just a few of the many rules that I instill at home to raise boys who respect girls and women.

 

1. Emotions Show That You’re Human

When we were kids, I remember many instances where my brothers were told that crying was for sissies. Boys are often influenced to stifle their emotions, whether it’s in school, play or sports. Showing emotion was typically frowned upon and questioned masculinity. Because we’re human, real men show emotions. In fact, according to the NY Times article, “Teaching Men to be Emotionally Honest,” research shows what early childhood teachers have always known: that from infancy through age 4 or 5, boys are more emotive than girls.  Boys should be encouraged to show emotion, rather than be shamed for being sad when hurt or whatever the case may be.

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Why is it ok for girls to cry when they fall or fail? Why can’t a boy be tough and still shed a tear when they’re disappointed? A product of this mindset, my husband has always disagreed with me about this. If my kid gets hurt when playing a sport, he is human, and humans show emotions. When emotions are discouraged, isolation and possibly, explosions occur. I’ve seen it happen, and it isn’t pretty.  Just because society says so, doesn’t mean how things are meant to be. In Debunking Myths About Boy Emotions, author Vicki Zakrzewski says, “By reflecting on our own emotional and relational beliefs and challenges, we will be better equipped to guide boys as they navigate the social and emotional nuances of growing up in a society that expects them to behave in ways that go against their natural capacities.”
 

2. Omit Gendered Phrases 

As a parent of a young athlete, I’ve caught my kid’s coach and other adults mutter, you throw/run/catch/hit “like a girl.” On the flip side, “man up” is often used in various scenarios to imply that boys need to be masculine to be strong. Those phrases that are meant to be offensive are often said to “toughen” the boys up. …As if girls are not tough. As if girls can’t play as well as boys. Thankfully, in our case, my son has always been on teams alongside of strong female athletes. Quite frankly, his female teammates are just as strong, if not stronger than the boys. Nevertheless, phrases that imply that girls are not strong competitors are never ok.IMG 2251

By instilling that females are equal competitors, offensive phrases will fade. Girls can do whatever boys can do, sometimes even better.
In my research for this piece, I read a NYT opinion piece that mentioned that the phrase “to throw like a girl” leads to the consideration of an influential feminist essay penned by political philosopher Iris Marion Young titled, “Throwing Like a Girl.” In essence, this piece deconstructs and analyzes the idea that the phrase is an insult, and discusses the way that embodiment shapes subjectivity. 

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3. Nature vs. Nurture

In the psychological debate where nature vs. nurture, we question whether nature (traits and characteristics that are inherited) outweigh nurture (qualities that are learned as we grow.) We tend to hear boys having more behavior issues in early childhood. Is this because they’re predisposed for certain behavior? Or that we expect boys to sit still when, in fact, their natural tendency is to move around and be curious about their surroundings.

F55FB8E4 0E57 4FDD A71A E45D6178D36AWhatever it may be, the way we parent and react to behaviors shape our kids. There’s no denying that boys’ behavior is different than girls. According to research, “there’s a better approach to understand where boys and girls are coming from and then use those propensities without disparaging them, as a means of helping children whatever their potential happens to be.” Instead of boys will be boys and girls will be girls, let’s just let kids be kids.

4. Be the Difference

As we raise our kids in trivial times, it’s more important than ever to help our kids to be the difference. See something that needs to be changed? Speak up. Want your community to update something? Be the change. When we volunteer and add our helping hands to the mix, our children will learn the importance of getting involved. Working alongside of community members will help boys to not only respect and gain ownership of their surroundings, but teach them to give back before expecting things to be handed to them. Be the change that you want your kids to see.

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5. Embrace Your Flaws

In my many trials as a parent, friends have lifted me up and complimented me, sometimes even questioned me. I’ve heard “you’re a great mom,” when I helped my little guy fight through medical episodes. When creating something with imagination and our hands, I’ve gotten, “best mommy ever.” You know as well as I do that I don’t do these things to prove my strengths as a parent, but instead, to show my guys that “we’ve got this.” As a creative, crafty and entrepreneurial type, I embrace these qualities and share them with my boys. I was a Pinterest Mom before Pinterest was a thing; and I’ll never apologize for that. 

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Still, today, society suggests that we should have perfect homes, perfect lives to keep their perfect husbands happy. As we all know, that’s not a reality. Just as we all have our strengths, we have our weaknesses as well. I get overwhelmed, do too much and ignore the piles of laundry. I’m not the perfect person, nor is my husband, and reminding our kids of that every day is just as important as encouraging them to do their best. Because of our flaws, we work even harder to become better people.

By teaching them to respect themselves, boys learn to respect everyone around them. We’re hoping to instill that your flaws and shortcomings make you, and there’s nobody else we’d want them to be.

It’s no easy task raising young men in this day and age. So, here’s to you, fellow boy mom and dads. We have our work cut out for us.

Three Years Seizure-Free + Disney Love

Every time it happened, I can remember the way my heart raced out of my body. Instead of panic though, mother’s instinct overpowered the fear, and somehow, I remained calm every single time. 

Three years ago was no different; Josh was sitting in his Svan high chair in the kitchen with his Developmental Therapist when he had his last major seizure. Mid-session as they played, he lost control of his own body and a seizure writhed and zapped him, for what seemed like an eternity. I remember doing something they tell you not to do: I carried my two year old to the couch and hugged him until the seizure ended. Josh’s seizures were never longer than 3 or 4 minutes, but they were long enough.

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Although I knew what they’d say, this time around, I called the paramedics to be safe. They arrived at the postictal state, the part where Josh is physically drained by the events. He sleeps for a good hour and is out of sorts for several hours beyond that.

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When these episodes happen, it’s hard to forget the emotions and details of the day. That day he wore a gray Puma sweatsuit that my brother and sister-in-law gave him for Christmas. I remember scooping him up after the first responders and paramedics examined him and hugged him some more. I declined the ambulance since he wasn’t in danger anymore, and sadly, because I remembered how much it would cost. This is a reality of habitual hospitalization and the state of insurance/medical care.

Josh ended up being admitted to the hospital that day so that the doctors could examine his levels and detect any other seizure activity. Since it was right before a snow storm, we knew things would get tricky and unbelievably complicated. For the first time, Josh and I were separated from Jack and Jeff for two days as we stayed in the hospital during the snow storm.

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Thankfully, Josh remained stable and was well cared for while we were in the pediatric wing. I’ll always remember the nurses who were exhausted, but remained incredibly patient with my boy. I’d always ask if they got in to work ok, and if their families were faring ok in the storm. When you have a chronically ill kid, your respect for those who work in the medical field magnifies.

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In these past three years, thankfully, medicine and close monitoring has permitted my boy to flourish developmentally. I’ve put life on hold at times to be present physically to be a taxi to therapy two times a week, be present for mid-day school pick up and specialists’ appointments multiple times a year.

Josh has grown leaps and bounds, with the help of his educators and therapists. His vocabulary continues to grow as big as his personality and as vibrant as his imagination. He’s so social and makes friends wherever he goes. Language is definitely difficult for him to interact with his peers at times, but he tries so hard. Big bro is always his biggest champion and helps whenever he’s around.

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In the fall, he’s about to embark on a new adventure in Kindergarten. He’ll most likely remain in the special education program for now, but with the (possible?) changes in education, I have fears or the unknown.

Nevertheless, I’m so proud of this hardworking boy who goes to school year-round and endures 8-10 various therapies a week in school and privately.

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When we reunited at the hospital after several days apart, Jack and Jeff gifted Josh a giant Mickey Mouse balloon that they found in the hospital gift shop. Like for so many, Disney and Mickey have always been our happy place. After what our guy has had to endure at such a young age, we always promised a Disney Cruise, or a trip to see Mickey Mouse once he was stable. Disney is our escape from reality and a reason to reunite when life gets full of distractions and complications.

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I may have been invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but our family was celebrating so much more. On this past trip to Disney World and Disney Cruise, we celebrated Josh being seizure-free for THREE YEARS!! This is huge because we get to discuss weaning him off of meds again! Go Josh, go!

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Whether it’s with a giant balloon or a chance set sail with Mickey, I’m grateful we have something to celebrate. Thank goodness for three years.

 

We’re going to #DSMM in May

Blogging has afforded my family and me the most wonderful experiences over the years. But, among all the cool experiences, some of the highlights have been being invited to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMM) multiple times.

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I’ll be the first to tell you: I don’t have the “biggest” blog, I don’t have numbers inflated by giveaways, and I’m almost always overwhelmed by life and how much work needs to get done. Nevertheless, I believe in staying true to myself and to this site I created 8 years ago. I’m proud of having the platform to keep my journalism background at work while creating a site that reaches such a diverse audience. NKT has ebbed and it’s flowed, but through it all, I’m so glad I’ve had an outlet to share all of the cool things for kids that make us happy.

When my littler guy was extremely sick 2/3 years ago, and we had nothing but visits to specialists and procedures on our calendar, I shared a lot of my life on social media as a way to cope. My community rallied and helped me stay sane. Sure, I use social media daily to promote the site and whatever’s the topic du jour, but in the end, it’s truly changed my life.

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At Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I’ve learned how to hone my craft and how to better understand analytics for platforms such as Pinterest. Speakers have inspired us in storybook ways, just as one would expect Disney to showcase. But most importantly, Disney has brought my family together in the toughest times,—when we’ve been financially drained by medical bills, overcome by worries and consumed by what ifs. As my older son is quickly racing to become a teen and my younger son gets stronger every day, it’s the happy times that elevate us as a family.

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Our life is far from storybook, but we’ll always have our Disney memories to lift us up when we need them most. I’m forever grateful for Disney Parks and BSM Media for making those memories that much more magical.

I’m finishing up some video from last year’s Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but for now, I wanted to share this recap video of last year’s event that was created for Disney. 

I can’t wait to share our experiences at DSMM again in May. Until then, I’m sure my Pinterest boards and blog posts will be flooded with Disney crafts and ideas inspired by The Mouse.

Pat Bells Put Music at Kids’ Fingertips

Colorful, beautiful and eye-catching, Pat Bells from PlayMe aren’t toys, but unique musical instruments that can be played with a slight tap of a wooden knob.  Each handbell in the 8-piece set is a different color of the spectrum, making it easy for kids to make their own music or follow song cards that feature notes with the corresponding bells’ colors.

Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the Pat Bells have been used in a variety of music education settings, including kids with special needs.  As opposed to traditional handbells, there are no handles to hold or mallets needed to strike, so Pat Bells are described as being “easy to play” for younger kids or who have low muscle tone or delayed motor skill development.

When I spotted these gorgeous bells at Toy Fair, I was immediately drawn in by the colors and striking design.  At $150, the bells may not find their way into personal music collections, but I’d love to see these in preschools, music classes and especially in the hands of music lovers of all ages.

Want to see the bells in action? I found a really great video on YouTube that gives a great demo.

Signing Time on Nick Jr.

Nick Jr. watchers, perhaps you’ve noticed, but over the past few weeks, there have been some cool new music videos in between shows, particularly videos that feature sign language?  In early December, Nick Jr. introduced Signing Time, an interstitial music series dedicated to teaching sign language to preschoolers.

Rachel Coleman from Nick Jr.'s "Signing Time"

There are three Signing Time videos which feature Emmy-nominated Rachel Coleman, will be in regular rotation on Nick Jr. airing 1-2 times per day in between commercials and regular shows.

The videos that can be seen on Nick Jr. include, “In a House,” which introduces the signs for different family members; “Feelings,” which teaches signs for feelings and “Groove with Me,” which offers signs for activities such as jumping and dancing.

For those who want to catch more Signing Times, there are two additional videos that are exclusive to www.nickjr.com.  “Leah’s Farm,” which presents the signs for animals and “A is for Alex and Alligator,” which teaches kids how to sign the entire alphabet can be accessed any time online.

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