Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dealing with unsolicited parenting advice

Dealing with unsolicited parenting advice

Everyone in the world seemed to be giving me contradicting parenting advice when I was pregnant with my son. I listened to what everyone said, even the extremely obnoxious neighbour who seemed to think she knew it all even though she did not have kids. It seems her friends had them and that was enough to make her an expert on every thing. I smiled and said thanks for the information. When people told me I was doing this wrong, that wrong, I needed these or that I said I would look into it. No matter how ridicules or sensible every piece of unsolicited parenting advice was I took the time to let the people know I heard them. I never said what I would do with their advice.

I was being told every thing from “your breasts are to big, your baby will not be able to breast feed, you better get these bottles and formula” and how I needed to “be able to speed change my kids diaper with one hand.” It was unexpected to have complete strangers telling me what I “needed to know” about having kids. I think I heard every horror story out there about labour, child rearing and what the kids will do and what can happen to them. I smiled and let everyone tell me whatever, and thanked most of them. Though I did start avoiding my obnoxious neighbour.

What did I do about all the advice? Nothing, I found a very good class on everything you needed to know about childbirth, and breast-feeding. And let me tell you I learned more in those two hours a week then I ever expected. I was even able to stop my neighbour by saying, “that does not sound any thing at all like what they said at class”, or “we just covered that in class, thanks for the information though.” That class was worth every penny. It gave me the information I needed to make real informed decisions and a place to question some of the advice being given to me.

My son was born and then it really started. It was like having a baby gives everyone the right to judge what you do or don’t do and give you unsolicited parenting advice. I was recovering from a very bad birth and my stitches became infected. I was on bed rest and antibiotics for 5 weeks after my son was born. I was getting everything like “I was just lazy laying around the house and I needed to get out and do things” and that I was not breastfeeding the right way, I was feeding him to much, my son was overdressed, underdressed, that I spent to much time with my son and just about any other thing you can think of. I checked with the health nurse and my doctor. I let people tell me what they thought I should know and then talked to the people who do know.

So I have two kids of preschool age, and still lots of advice coming my way. I should use this discipline method, that method, I am soft on my kids letting them get away with to much, to hard I should just give them what they want in the store, I should read more to them, I needed to spend less time with them. Again anything you can think of and some things I had not even thought of I got advice on. I started parenting classes that were age appropriate for my kids, or were about issues I needed help on, like discipline, potty training and how to get them to sleep. Most of these classes and seminars are through a free program called Early Years and are done by people who are professionals in this field. Now people can tell me what they want, I know where to go to get information to be able to make informed decisions.

I believe that most people who give all this unsolicited parenting advice are being nice and helpful. They don’t think that it’s rude or unwanted, or know that they are the 10th person that day trying to tell you what to do with your kids. I believe being polite is the way to go, and let them go on their way. However I do come across some people who will just not let things go. My daughter was two and was still emotionally attached to her nummy / soother. We all knew she did not need it, but it was her security blanket and I know soon she would out grow the need for it. But it would be on her time not any one else’s. Every day she would take her nummy to preschool and then give it to us at the door. If we forgot to take it from her before entering the classroom the teacher would make a comment to her about it. We told the teacher that we, her parents, did not have a problems with it and that should have been that. Nope, every time she had the nummy the teacher would make the comment. We finally had to take her aside and explain again that we were the parents and we would decide when to take away the nummy. One of the parents decided to help us one morning by taking our daughter on her lap and told her that if she did not stop using the nummy Santa would not visit her house. Lets just say this lady was told what end was up and to stay away from our kids. I don’t mind if some one wants to tell me what they think I need to know to be a better parent, but I draw the line when they try to Parent my kids. No matter what, remember you are the parent, and you have ways to find out what you need to know to make informed decisions about how to be your child’s parent.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Signs your spouse is involved in an online affair

The problem with on-line affairs is that most people involved in them don’t think of them as affairs. It’s not like they are “cheating” for real. So some people who would never even dream of having an affair find themselves having an online affair. They can be who they want to be, and “do” what ever they want to with out any real risk or consequences. It is not like they are meeting the person at a hotel room or something. There is no real contact so it does not hurt anyone.

They completely miss the fact that it involves their emotions and time. Emotions and time they should be investing into their spouse. In some cases it goes to the next level and becomes a real affair, one that is physical not just emotional. Whether it is just an on-line or an actual physical affair it is still disruptive and harmful to existing relationships. Online affairs account for a growing number of divorce cases and it is the most frequently treated problem at the Centre for Online Addiction, http://www.netaddiction.com/.

The number of online affairs or Internet romances grows every day. It is so big there is even an Online Affairs Support Centre, http://onlineaffairs.tripod.com/, an anonymous support centre for individuals who want to discuss and support others in understanding the "online affair" or "internet romance". It is open to people whose spouse or partner had or is having an online affair, or those who have been hurt by their online friend. As well as people currently or are considering having an Internet romance.

How do you know if your spouse is having an online affair? Your gut instinct is a very good sign. If you think some thing is going on, chances are you are right. However you don’t want to just go on your instinct, you may want to read The more you know, http://www.themoreyouknowpi.com/. There are signs your spouse is involved in an online affair. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for.

Changes in behaviour:

Not sharing or talking to you about their day, or what they are doing on the computer.

Go from telling you about who they met and what they talked about online to not talking about what they do on the computer or just one person as if they stopped talking with them. Early on, before they learn how to hide their tracks, you may find some unusual or inappropriate emails or messages from some one that your spouse just brushes off as a joke or that it was sent to the wrong person.

Wanting to have privacy when they use the computer. Changing the page they are on, turning off the screen/closing laptop up when you come close to the computer. Start taking their laptop with them so you have no access to it.

Spending more time on the computer then with you, or always on the computer whenever you are not around. They check their emails several times a day, when you are not by the computer, delete emails and then dump the garbage/deleted emails so you cannot read them.

Wanting to be intimate with you every time they get off the computer, possibly wanting to try different things. Calling you a new nickname or term of endearment when being intimate with you. Or the very opposite, they no longer seem to want or need intimacy with you, physical or emotional.

Suddenly start using IM (instant messaging)

Changes in computer use:

They have changed the passwords on the computer. There are areas you just cannot get into any more. Possibly have set up as a second user on the computer, a second hard drive or the hard drive is partitioned and you don’t have access to what is on it. Opening an email account that you do not know of, or they don’t want you to look at or they will not give you access to.

There is a live chat (IM) program that was not there before or one that you cannot get access to, or some one uses the program you already have but asks for some one you don’t know. They seem to always be in a chat room “just talking”.

Suddenly there is a web cam, better imaging software, more RAM so it processes faster, and new software to automatically clear all Internet history after chat sessions.

The truth is that you will notice a change in your partner be it a big or small change. They are going to be the same type of changes if they are having an affair in person, or online. You will start questioning what is going on, they will be on the defensive and possibly have an argument about it. They will try to make you think that they are not doing anything wrong and that you have a problem not them. Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is to get them to tell you, not likely to happen. Or you need to catch them.

It is a little easer to catch them on the computer because you can use spy ware programs like Keylogger software that lets you see every keystroke, what is being said and to who. This will give you the proof you are looking for. These days there are all types of spy ware programs available because unfortunately they are needed in business and personal lives. There are companies that will install a spy ware program so your partner is unable to detect it and remove it. The only problem with this is if your partner is using a laptop from work, they get checked all the time and it could cause a big problem if there is a spy ware program on it. Also you have no way of finding out what they are doing on their computer at work.

If you don’t have a laptop you can also install a video camera in such a place as to see the screen. This is not as safe as a spy ware program as it can be found with a physical search. At the same time there are some very cool hidden cameras available these days. This way you can see what they are doing, sometimes at the same time as they are doing it. If you have to go so far as to spy on your partner then there is a real trust issue and you need to take a look at how happy you are in the relationship even if they are not cheating. Though the sad part is, if you think your partner is having an online affair the chances are you are right.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to keep your teen boy safe when he parties

The best way to keep your teen boy safe when he parties is to have the parties in your home. That way you know where he is, whom he is hanging out with, and what he is doing. It can be stressful having a bunch of teens in your home all the time, making a mess and eating all your food. Is it more stressful then worrying about what your teen boy is up to when he is not in your home? The reality of your home being the party house is slim to none. Teens will go to the home with the least supervision, no adults there, or adults that don’t care.

These days you don’t have much control over your teen boy. Sure you can GPS them, make them check in every hour, drug test them, control most of the money they have unless they have a job, and in some ways control who they hang out with, when and where. But only your son can control his actions and decisions. The best protection for your son when he is outside of your control is for him to be well informed about his options and the consequences of his actions. This means making sure he is well informed about the realities and consequences of sex, drugs, alcohol, crime and violence.

Do not just have the “don’t do drugs, drink, have sex or break the law” conversation. You need to show your teen boy what drugs and alcohol will do to him and his friends. What the real affect drugs and alcohol have on them. How it changes what they think and do, how “dumb” they become under the influence. How over time it changes your physical appearance from young and healthy to sickly and ugly. How it can kill him and his friends in many ways from overdose to being around the wrong people and being killed for the drugs or money. Find a way to show them what detox is actually like. Let them know all the realities about drug and alcohol use, not some Disney version of it.

Sex, well they are going to want to do it. You son needs to know what can happen when he has sex. This includes pregnancy and STD’s. He also needs a clear idea of what is OK and not OK, the “if a person says no it means no” conversation. It is not OK to have sex with a person just because they are too drunk to say no. Keep him safe from misunderstandings and mixed messages. These are things you can talk with him about and help him understand the complexity of having sex with some one. Most people don’t think of it as just sex, so there are the relationship issues to deal with.

Most problems come about because teen boys will do some very stupid things to impress a girl so he can have sex with her. This can lead to fights, and criminal activity like drag racing or theft so he can have the money and clothing to impress her. This is going to be harder to deal with, as you probably have no idea it is going on. Again you have to give them as much information about what is right and wrong and the consequences and then trust them enough to let them make their own mistakes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Picture lockets as gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up and as per usual I am kind of at a loss at what to get everyone. A few years ago at a photo shop I saw some picture pendants. You take a picture in and they would have it coloured lasered on to a metal pendant. I have always liked that idea, to be able to wear a picture that had good memories as jewellery. At the time I was thinking about having some done up with my children and giving them to their Grandparents for Christmas. The other item I was looking at was a locket that you put pictures into. I think that they are a nice gift idea, but I never did buy one. I just did not have pictures small enough to fit.

Looking around on the Internet today I found a great combination of both of these, lockets that the pictures are colour lasered into the inside. That way I don’t have to deal with looking for pictures that fit, and then try to cut them right and then somehow get them into the locket. This makes it so much easer for me. Also if the locket gets wet or something there will be no damage to the pictures because they are laser printed. I like that as my kids Grandmother lives right on the ocean, and is boating all the time.

I found locket wristwatch that would make great gifts for both Grandpa and Great Grandpa. They can use them as a wristwatch and then lift the watch part up and there the picture is. I am not sure if I will go with the engraving with this one or just put a picture in. I may go with the just the coloured lasered picture because I don’t think either one takes their watches off when washing their hands.

For Grandma and Great Grandmother I am looking at traditional silver lockets. I found some great designs. Though knowing Great Grandmother she will not wear it unless it was a white gold locket. I did find some lockets she would like, two-toned gold with diamonds, but the price is way out of my reach right now. I found some very nice silver lockets that I can afford now, and if I want to I can even get them in time for mothers day.

For me there is a very cool one for Mothers day in the gold lockets. It is a hart locket with a Mom holding a baby on the front. I like it a lot, but it is a bit out of my price range right now. My husband would be happy with the dog tag style ones I found at the photo shop place. Two of them with the kids baby pictures on the front and their names and date of birth on the back. It would be like a cheat sheet for him so he would stop confusing their birthdays.

These lockets are traditional gifts that I think Grandmother and Great Grandmother will appreciate. The watches are useful so I think Grandfather, and Great Grandfather will actually like and use them.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How to gracefully end a bad blind date

There is nothing more fun or fearful then jumping into a blind date hoping to find Mr. or Mrs. right. You get to meet someone new and hopefully have a fun night out. At best you find that you like the person, and have an enjoyable time. If you are not a good fit then at least you get out of the house for a while, maybe you will end up with a new friend and have a nice time anyway. At worst you end up with a reject from "Who wants to marry a millionaire", or an escapee from the local psychiatric hospital and spend all your time trying to gracefully get away.

You want to gracefully end a bad blind date because chances are that they are a friend of a friend and as much as you don’t like them you are probably going to run into them again. You don’t want to be rude to your friend’s friend as it makes you look bad. If the person is a nut job you don’t want to give them a reason to be angry with you, or want revenge for some slight. Also it is always better to use common courtesy with every one you deal with, even if they made your evening Hell. Why because you never know when they are going to show up in your life again. You meet someone you really like, and then one of their friends or co-worker tells them about the date they had with you. Or they end up being a co-worker, or your boss.

First: When you set up the blind date, don’t try and go for the full date, dinner, movies or a show and clubbing. Instead make a mini date, with a preset time limit that is acceptable to both of you. You can try a lunch date, or just meet for drinks, be it coffee or something else, or even a dinner only date. It is much easer to change your plans and extend the date or make a second date if you like each other then it is to spend the evening with someone you would like to shot put into the next time zone.

Second: Make sure you meet at the place you are having the date so that you are not giving or getting a ride from your blind date. You don’t want to have to spend that extra time driving home with some one you don’t like; it was bad enough being on a date with them in public. Who wants to be stuck in a car for who knows how long with someone you just want to run away from. It is much easer to make a graceful getaway to leave for your car at a restaurant or coffee shop then it is at your front door. People tend to have expectations of a kiss or more at the front door, avoid being in that situation with someone you think is about as much fun as eating sand.

Third: When the date is over then you say, “It was nice to meet you, good by.” If they don’t take the hint and what to keep talking or what ever you tell them that because the date was just for lunch, coffee, or dinner that you made plans with your family that you just cannot change. This is a very good way to leave gracefully and not hurt any ones feelings. Just do not tell them you will call them or would like to spend time with them. If they do try to arrange for another date, or keep pushing for a phone call then tell them that you are just not interested in another date as you are not interested in the same things as they are, but would be happy to hang out with them with your mutual friends. Give them the idea that friendship would work, just not dating. This way if you are stuck in a social situation with them in the future it is easer to be polite with each other.

Fourth: Make sure that you have a friend or friends at the place of the date and if things get real bad you have a set signal that brings them over to join you. This is a good way to end the date. Suddenly you are not on a date anymore but a group of people hanging out. At some point you can tell them it was nice meeting them and that you hope they have a good night but that you have to go. This works great when you have a set time for the date because your other plans showed up. If your date wants to join you at least your friends can act as a buffer. If every one is lucky your date and one of your friends will hit it off. They end up happy; you get to be the one that got away.

Fifth: What ever you do, do not have sex with them just because the opportunity was there, you are lonely or you felt sorry for them. It is not worth it. That never ends well. Suddenly you are in a relationship, or have a very pissed off person gunning for you, or a stalker who thinks you are in love because you had sex with them.

Rule of thumb is to always treat people with common courtesy, and respect even when spending time with them feels like an eternity of listening to nails on a chalkboard. Make sure you don’t place yourself into a situation that is hard to get out of, be it a physical location, or an emotional one. If the date is not working, end it as fast as possible, but be polite about it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Questions to ask on a first date

Neutral open-ended questions are the key. Never ask: “what do you do for a living, how much money do you make, religion or politics views, for or against having kids?” There are ways to find out if you are compatible enough for a second date. If you are then you have the time on later dates to find out if there are any deal breakers. The first date is not the place to do that. The idea is to find out if you like each other enough to want to get to know each other more, not find out every thing there is to know about each other. Here are some things to ask:

What would you do if you won the lottery? This can open up a conversation. How they answer the question can tell you a lot about a person, their values, their personality and what some of their likes and dislikes are. It can help show you how compatible you are in some areas.

What is your favourite entertainment? Not what TV shows they like or the best movie they have seen. That is too limited of a question. By asking what favourite entertainment you may find out if they like to go out or stay home. Are they a doer or a watcher? Do they go to concerts, plays, a jazz bar, play poker, race cars, do paint ball, stay home and watch CSI, or any number of things.

What was your favourite cartoon as a kid? This gives you a common neutral ground to start a conversation. It can also lead naturally to other things you both may like and dislike.

How are you enjoying the meal, cup of coffee? It can be what ever you are doing together. Then ask if they like any other restaurants, or coffee shops. This helps you find out what they like and can lead to an opportunity for a second date. I.E. “Well maybe we can go there the next time” or “Lets try that place next.” It is an easy way to get an idea if they are interested in seeing you again and lets them know you are. No second-guessing about how the date is going.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to try and raise a drug-free teen

As parents we need to explain to our children, and teens, as early as possible the difference between drugs and medicine. People use the words drug and medicine to mean the same thing. Yes drugs can be medicine, but when we are teaching our children and teens about drugs we have to show that there is a big difference. Teenagers have grown up in a world where a pill can make your pain go away, fix what ever your problems are. It is easy to understand why teenagers will look to drugs to fix things. They need to understand that medicine is some thing a Dr. prescribes to make specific medical and health problems better. Drugs are sold or given by people who want you to get high, become addicted, and then give them money to get more drugs. That is just the start.

I grew up in a home full of drugs and alcohol. I can tell you it made me a drug free teenager. I could see what drugs and alcohol did to people. Why would I ever let myself become one of them? People with no thought or ambition but to make sure they got their next fix or drink. There may not have been money for food or clothing for me, a child but by God there was money for drugs and booze. Usually a child raised in this type of environment is more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse. I was the acceptation to the rule.

You don’t want your teen to do drugs, show them the real life of a drug addict before they become one. Show them the people living on the streets, selling themselves and even their children for drugs. Show them people who are dieing and still looking for the next hit. The open soars, burns and shrivelled bodies of people who care more about feeding their drug habit instead of their bodies. The hair and teeth falling out as bodies shut down.

Explain the brutal truth about what drugs do to people. Sure they may make you feel as if all your problems are gone, or far away but that only lasts for as long as the drug dose does. Show them people on drugs so they know how people act, there are films and TV shows out there you can use. Show them some one detoxing, all of it. The most effective thing though is to show them how doing drugs will affect how they look. Show them the gradual change from clean and pretty to dirty and ugly drug addict. Vanity can be a powerful thing, use it. Let them know what they have to look forward to if they do drugs; the irrational behaviour, no money, no longer having a social life or friends, selling any thing and every thing for the drug, stealing, and the deterioration of body, mind and soul. You need to show them the truth and then hope it sticks.

Do not sugar coat the reality of drug use. Once you have educated your teens on the reality of drug use they will never go near the stuff right, nope. Most teens don’t think that any of that bad stuff is going to happen to them. They will only use it once to try it. The truth is if they use drugs once they will use again, no matter what the excuses they give they will be back. Some drugs have been designed to take hold of you from the first hit. They change your body so that you need the drug. You will always need it, even once you become clean.

Doing random drug tests at home help your teen say “NO”. It makes it easer for them to give a reason for not doing the drugs, a way out from peer pressure. It is much easer for a teenager to say, “I can’t do that or be in the room when you do it because my parents drug test me when I get home” then to say “No I don’t want to do that”. For the most part unless a teen is looking for drugs to escape their lives they appreciate having a way out from taking them.

So you talk to your teens, trust them and show that trust but still test them for drugs. Tell them that you test them so that they can say, “Sorry, cannot do drugs. I get tested at home.” Explain over and over each time that the testing is so it is easer for them to say no. Don’t stop testing just because your teen has passed all the tests, move to random testing. Yes it is expensive, but not as expensive as loosing your teen to drugs.

The real problem here is that drug dealers are marketing and targeting preteens and teens. Our kids and teens don’t even know that they are taking a drug. It is hidden in some thing the kids and teens like, and then they get hooked on it and still don’t even know its drugs. All they know is they want more of that candy, or drink their friend gave them. Some drugs are mixed in or injected into popular food items and then repackages often with special wrappers or packaging. We are talking about soft gums and chocolate bars that are injected, drug coated candies. We just had a problem this year in my area with Sour keys (and other sour candy) being coated with drugs and given to kids. There are even special suckers where drugs are mixed in with the ingredients when they were being made. It looks like a sucker, why would any one think it was not one. The dealer is not selling drugs to the kids and teens, but a candy that is special. Kids and teenagers become addicted to a drug they may not even know they were taking. Teenagers have an idea that they are buying drugs but can justify it in their minds because they are buying candies, not drugs. Drug testing at home can catch this.

The idea is to get children hooked on drugs early as possible, by any means, and then start making money from them. These days’ drug dealers have a lot of competition so they need to create a market. Then there are designer drugs targeted to look safe to kids and teen. Like the one that is mixed with sugar and food colouring so that it looks likes harmless candy, even though everyone knows it is a drug. Then there are the ones that increase your sex drive, or someone else, or just increase the intensity. Of course a teen is going to be interested in this. Teens also see all the advertisings for sex enhancement drugs on TV, so if it is ok for adults to take things to improve their sex lives, it is ok for them to do the same.

The truth is that we actually cannot stop our kids and teens from taking drugs if they want to. We can try to prevent them from taking them, or wanting to take them. Then we use drug tests to show how serious we are when it comes to drugs, but they only test for exact drugs. We can talk to them, reduce access to drugs, be good examples by not doing drugs, and monitor them. If they do start drugs then we do what it takes to get them off it. The sad part is that often kids and teens are getting drugs from the medicine cabinet in their own home, or can buy over the counter. They can even get other drugs online, all they need is access to a computer, a credit card or a Paypal account. That is very hard to catch. So your teen has some cold medicine and a couple of different containers of painkillers for headaches, backaches, muscle pain. Does that mean they are taking drugs? Possibly. These days there are some very powerful drugs available over the counter, and when taken properly are fine. You don’t know if your teen is taking a handful of mixed pills with a chaser of cold medicine as soon as they are alone, and they are not going to tell you.