lohud.com

Sponsored by:

Archive for the 'Emotions' Category

How do you rate the movie ratings system?

August
14

When we went to see “Wall-E” last summer, my daughter, then 3, cried piteously when Wall-E’s cockroach buddy was left behind as the spaceship blasted off. She was so sensitive — and she loves bugs — that the emotional impact hit her hard. “Wall-E” was rated G.

Being big movie fans, we’ve since taken the Pumpkin to many kids’ movies. And we haven’t had any more tears. I think it’s mostly due to her greater sophistication in responding to filmed entertainment.  We don’t watch much TV at home and the shows she sees don’t have the heightened intensity of a movie. “Planet Earth” DVDs, “Sesame Street” and “Miffy” aren’t exactly edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

But now that she’s used to movies, we don’t necessarily go by the ratings when we determine whether it’s suitable. For instance, “Bolt” and “Madagascar 2” were both rated PG, but neither seemed too scary or intense. We’ve shunned “G-Force,” perhaps unfairly, because I don’t like the idea of weapon packs on cute little animals.

One place a lot of parents go for advice is <a href=”http://www.commonsensemedia.org” target=”_blank”>Common Sense Media</a>, a nonprofit organization that rates everything from movies to TV shows to books to music to Web sites. It’s a good site, and I can recommend it. I do think they are way too conservative when it comes to ratings. For instance, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and “Up” were both suggested for ages 6 plus. My daughter, who is now 4, loved both of them.

On the opposite end of the age scale, my 17-year-old niece is coming to visit for a few days and we hope to watch a movie with her after the Pumpkin is in bed. We already know we don’t want to watch something with an R rating because we certainly don’t want to confront any sexual scene or foul language. We’ll have to figure out what might be a good compromise on the PG front.

I’d love to hear what other parents do when it comes to ratings. Do you keep your preschoolers away from PG flicks or do you judge each one individually? What’s your strategy for evaluating their worth?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
| | Comments Off on How do you rate the movie ratings system?

Our blended family vacation

July
13

There’s always a unique kind of dynamic with these situations — in our case two parents, each with their own child. That’s our blended family.

Last week we all hauled ourselves upstate and settled into a lakeside cabin, and I came away with some observations.


The interesting dynamic is how a blended family operates in these situations. We did all of the family activities you would expect: Canoeing, swimming, toasting marshmallows, taking a hike to a waterfall, etc.

But, in the end, there’s always a bit of a division that happens at the end of the day. That’s not to say it’s in a bad way, necessarily. But, ultimately, I gravitate toward my son and my girlfriend towards hers. The inescapable fact is that I am ultimately responsible for my son and she for hers, much as we do generally function as a family.

Is that bad? As I said, not necessarily.

But it’s certainly a different component that you don’t find in your traditional family. The hope is that, with time, those divisions are minimized. But I suspect they’ll always be there in some capacity.

My question is does this happen in traditonal families also?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Being there

June
27

Tonight was my daughter’s dance recital. This is an event we’ve been looking forward to for nine months. She’s taken lessons nearly every Saturday since mid-September, with a few exceptions for holidays and vacations. It’s been a journey of growth for her and for me. There was even a time early on when there was a question of whether she’d be able to continue with the class because she was so undisciplined her first day the teacher feared she’d be a bad influence on others.

But tonight, she shined. And I don’t have one photo of it or one minute of videotape. This was a choice made by a parent who has 17,000 photos on my Mac, 99 percent of which were taken since the Pumpkin was born four years ago.

Why did I choose not to record this precious memory? Because I wanted to live it. I didn’t want to see the Pumpkin dance through a viewfinder or a 3-inch LCD screen. I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to be present in the moment, enjoying every second. And I was. And I did. I cried. I smiled big. I held her father’s hand. I was *there*.

As a parent who watched her daughter blow out her birthday candles two years in a row from behind a camera, I can say that being there — truly there in the moment — beats the recorded memories.

I can only look at the pictures of that fourth birthday moment because I don’t have the images in my head to enjoy.

Tonight, I have something better than pixels. I have the afterglow of the feeling that welled up in me. I can only describe it as bliss.

I’m curious about the choices readers of this blog have made in similar circumstances. Have you, like me, been too willing to experience the milestones from behind the lens? What occasions have prompted you to just put down the camera and live? Or, do you derive such joy from rewatching the event that it’s worth it to be distracted by the filming of it?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Saturday, June 27th, 2009 at 12:39 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Advertisement

Becoming the parent you want to be

June
23

Chances are, you have a parenting philosophy even if you’ve never articulated it. You might be against spanking, for instance. (And hopefully.) You might limit TV. You might attend church or temple every week and talk about the lessons afterward. You might have a rule that there is no shouting inside the house.

In conversations with friends and relatives, I’ve come to realize I have a pretty strong sense of what I want my parenting to be. I don’t always meet these aspirations. I can be impatient at times. I have raised my voice rather than reasoned. I have tired of childish games sooner than I would like. In the everyday tumble of life amid work demands and sleep deficits, the gap between our ideals and our realities can widen.

That’s why I had to share with you a wonderful blog post that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2009/06/7-secrets-to-raising-a-happy-child/” target=”_blank”>7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child</a>.” It’s as if writer Sean Platt crept into my head and wrote down my thoughts. I have spoken in favor of all of these guidelines to friends and family at one time or another, though I certainly didn’t express my thoughts as well as this writer. Sean has his own blog, <a href=”http://writerdad.com/” target=”_blank”>Writer Dad</a>, that’s also well worth bookmarking. (He also loves “<a href=”http://writerdad.com/writing/why-lost-is-the-best-television-show-ever/” target=”_blank”>Lost</a>,” which makes him an automatic kindred spirit.)

Here is the short version of Sean’s post, with some of my addenda. (If you want to read the unexpurgated version, just click on the link above.)

“1. Let your child know you are excited to see them when they enter the room. Let them see the light dance inside your eyes when their gaze drifts into yours. Be mindful of their presence by showing them your smile and greeting them warmly. Say their name out loud. Not only do children love to hear the sound of their name, they also long to feel validation from their loved ones.”
(This is such a simple and joyful thing to do that it’s going to be No. 1 on my list as well. I am pretty sure I do this most of time already, but I’ll try to never forget even on days when everything is going wrong.)

“2. Teach your child it’s okay to be bored. As parents, it’s often our instinct to entertain our children each and every waking hour. When we don’t possess the time or energy, it is all too easy to allow the glowing blue babysitter in the living room to do the heavy lifting. But when we rely on television, or any other form of autopilot attention, we succeed only in limiting our child’s development. Children have vivid imaginations that flourish upon nurturing. But without the opportunity to coax their creativity, it will only whither on the vine.”
(I totally agree with this! I often have said that I think boredom is useful. It forces the mind to wander and who knows where that might lead? I am against DVDs in the car and will never give my child a portable gaming device. Let her be a little bored once in a while! Maybe she’ll daydream herself to a magical place that can only be found in the imagination.)

“3. Limit your child’s media. Related, but not limited to number two. Limiting your child’s exposure to media isn’t only a positive move for promoting their creativity, it is an excellent method to broaden their attention span while grooming their ability to stay calm. Your child will have plenty of exposure to more than you want soon enough.”
(Thanks to Tivo, the Pumpkin has no idea that some people just sit down and channel surf. Whenever I allow very limited TV time, we watch a show recorded specially for her.)

“4. Let your child know they are more important than work by giving them eye contact and attention. Your child doesn’t just need you around, they need you present. Play with your child, interact with them, find out what is important to them by asking questions and listening to their answers.”
(This is the hardest one for working parents, isn’t it? It’s so hard sometimes to pull away from the e-mail or phone messages to just stop and sit on the floor and make time.)

“5. Let your child make a few of the rules. You don’t have to make them the boss to let them feel empowered. Often, power struggles with our children are the direct result of them feeling a loss of control.”
(My strategy is negotiation. We have an elaborate system of working out “deals” in our home. I lay out what I expect, she listens and sometimes makes a counteroffer. Then we both agree on the terms and even shake hands. Obviously, I don’t allow her to have a say when safety is at stake, but if we’re talking about trying a new food or reading a book before or after we brush teeth, I think negotiation is fine.)

“6. Teach your child — don’t assume it’s all happening outside the house. Home schooling is every parent’s job.”
(This is an example I received from my husband’s family. His dad used to give the kids regular assignments. The tradition lives on today with my husband’s two sisters and brother. In our house, the Pumpkin knows that she is attending “home school,” where she is learning everything from the names of creatures in the sea to which island in the South Pacific grows cloves. We have a lot of fun. )

“7. Model appropriate behavior. In my opinion, this is the most important item on the list. Children do as they see, not as they’re told. If you want your child to be mindful of others, you must be mindful of others yourself. If you want your child to by happy, you must smile without hesitation. There is no one more influential to your child than you. At least for now.”
(This is without a doubt my weakest link. I lose my temper too often. I let little things get to me at times. I don’t “go with the flow” as much as I’d like. This is definitely an area I have to emphasize myself as I strive to become a better parent.)

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did. The “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/” target=”_blank”>zenhabits, simple productivity</a>” site has other useful links as well, like this one that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/100-ways-to-have-fun-with-your-kids-for/” target=”_blank”>100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap</a>.” I wonder how my mom would like No. 100: “Prank call their grandparents, using disguised, humorous voices.”

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 2:23 am |
| | 2 Comments »

Recommended: Pacem in Terris

June
22

Pretty unique and rewarding Father’s Day for me this year, and something I’d recommend.

We shelved the idea of a cookout or a ballgame this time out, and instead headed upstate to Warwick to visit Pacem in Terris — six acres of sculpture and meditation gardens along the Wawayanda River.

The gardens are the life work of Frederick Franck, a Dutch-born sculptor and author who spent nearly half a century adorning the land around his home with sculptures, artwork and meditation spaces. The NY Times did a nice piece on it three years ago.

Pacem in Terris essentially translates from Latin to mean Peace on Earth, and it’s in keeping with Franck’s spiritual outlook on life. Franck, who wrote more than 30 books on Buddhism and other subjects, died in 2006 at the age of 97, and the property is now maintained by his son, Lukas, as a nonprofit corporation.

Pacem is laced with Franck’s message, and immediately alerts visitors that it is “neither church, nor chapel, nor temple.” He cites his associations with Albert Schweitzer, Pope John XXIII and Buddhist scholar Daisetz Suzuki with helping shape his world view — and homages to them abound throughout.

Franck, a dental surgeon-turned artist, also has his work on display at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tokyo National Museum and St. John the Divine Church.

My girlfriend turned us on to the place, which she frequented in past during times when she sought solace and tranquility. It was also a hit for my son, who is 11.

I would note that younger children may not be as enthralled — the place is not a playground. But for older kids, it’s a worthwhile experience. My son was very taken by it and was very vocal about appreciating that he and I shared it on Father’s Day.

Anyway, Pacem in Terris is at 96 Covered Bridge Road in Warwick, and, while it’s a tad out of the way, it’s worth a trip. Most of it is literally in Franck’s back yard, so visitors are asked to be respectful.

However, it is also free, and opens to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jfitzgibbon

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 10:30 am |
| | 5 Comments »

Playground parenting and other issues

June
11

I made an observation at the playground when my son was very young. Namely, parents seem to hover.

The problem with this is that it seems to me that kids aren’t allowed to learn a very basic life skill at the playground: Conflict resolution. If two kids have a beef at the monkey bars, there’s always a parent or two coming in to mediate or, more likely, to separate the kids and force them to play at opposite ends of the playground.

That’s kind of the type of thing that Lenore Skenazy has been talking about for a while now.

Skenazy is a Big Apple colunmist and blogger who made waves in 2007 by letting her then-9-year-old son take the subway and bus home on his own. She peddled the experience into a book, Free Range Kids, and a blog by the same title.

“Amid the cacophony of terrifying Amber Alerts and safety tips for every holiday,” Salon.com said in its review, “Skenazy is a chipper alternative, arguing that raising children in the United States now isn’t more dangerous than it was when today’s generation of parents were young. And back then, it was reasonably safe, too. So why does shooing the kids outside and telling them to have fun and be home by dark seem irresponsible to so many middle-class parents today?”

We’ve taken up similar issues here in the past. Admittedly, I’ve tended to err on the side of smothering my own son, relying more on that gene that says I should protect him. And, personally, I would not have let my 9-year-old ride the subway home alone.

But that’s just me, and I am likely very much guilty of the type of over-parenting Skenazy warns about.

Nonetheless, there is a lesson in it all, regardless of your personal feelings on it: Sometimes you do have to let the reins loose a bit.

Perhaps it is a matter of degrees. And I at least give myself credit for letting him work out his playground scuffles.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jfitzgibbon

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
| | Comments Off on Playground parenting and other issues

Advertisement

Playing hooky: a parental judgement call

May
24

Well, I did it: I kept my son out of school on Friday even though he had two tests and a project due. And I hope I’m not getting him in trouble by posting on it.

Okay, so the truth is I arranged with his teachers to have him take both tests on Thursday, and hand in his portion of a team alegebra project the same day. So, the damage was minimal, if there was any at all.

But in the end I reasoned that he wouldn’t remember that day at school in years to come. He will, however, always remember our day: We went to the free Green Day concert at Central Park for the Good Morning American summer concert series.

Needless to say, it’s his favorite band, and pretty high on my list as well. And I can’t ask for a better day, nor a more fun outing for him (above). No, that’s not me on the right. I took the photo. (I still have a tad more “coverage” on my head — no offense to the man in the photo.)

Anyway, this has been a periodic judgement call for me, as it is for many parents, I suspect. I had the day off, so it was no issue on my end. But education is important, and occasionally parents may opt to keep the kid home. I handle it on a case-by-case basis, but it’s something I take seriously.

I spoke to a couple of other parents at the show who had done the same thing, and they had all made the same decision: That it was a treat worth cutting school for the day.

Is it something that can be abused? Certainly. I have friends who were periodically kept home from school for a “mental health day,” which I think is of limited value for most kids, depending on age and circumstances.

But the question is when do you think it’s okay to have your kid play hooky?

One final note on the show, it really was a treat. I’ve blogged on the music element of it on The Listening Room, our music blog. But for those that didn’t see it, here’s a clip from GMA:

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/BcznS8hYe8g&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/BcznS8hYe8g&hl=en&fs=1″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 at 11:57 am |
| | 3 Comments »

My son and the icy little “planet”

May
18

I remember one of my son’s first trips to the Museum of Natural History years ago. He was at the height of his interest in astronomy — one of those rites of passage evey kid seems to go through. It’s like the interest all kids develop at one time or another in dinosaurs.

So there we were in the parking garage entrance area, where the ticket booths are. Along the far wall are models of the planets, and we followed them from the start: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and so on. We followed the line down until we hit Neptune, then kept walking and wound up inside an adjacent gift shop.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, we’re looking for Pluto,” I said.

“It’s not a planet,” she said.

My son and I were greatly disappointed, to say the least.

Little did I realize at the time that we were at the height of controversy surrounding Pluto, which has since been officially demoted from planet status.

I’m actually in the midst of finishing a book about it all, titled the Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson, head man at the museum’s Haydn Planetarium. Turns out the museum started an uproar when it refurbished the planetarium without Pluto among the planets.

Anyway, it’s a story that, as they say in my business, has legs. Just last week, our neighbors had a dinner party which they dubbed “astronomy night” for all the kids, and we pulled out a couple of telescopes to see Saturn in the southern sky.

In the middle of it all, my son decided to poll everyone at the party on whether Pluto really was a planet. Needless to say, the results were inconclusive. But I couldn’t help but sense that a lot of the kids really miss Pluto as a full-fledged planet. My son certainly does.

The experience heightened my realization that our kids are growing up with some different realities than we had as kids.

These aren’t necessarily life-changing situations or ideals. It’s just different. When I was a kid T. Rex was supposed to have been a slow, lumbering creature that walked like Godzilla in the Japanese monster flicks, and there were a few less elements in the periodic table that I had to memorize.

But I’ve come to see it as a positive thing. Parents are traditionally supposed to help educate kids on the world around them. Now it seems my son and I are learning a thing or two together. And that’s kinda cool.

Even if I had one more planet than him.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
| | 7 Comments »

When is Blended Family Day?

May
13

Here’s a built-in problem in blended families: You never have the whole family together for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

There’s a simple reason for it. Namely, my son will always be with his mom on Mother’s Day (as he was earlier this month) and my girlfriend’s son will be with his dad on Father’s Day. So, we’re inevitably incomplete when celebrating our respective parenting days.

Kinda makes it hard to have the ideal family day.

Or does it?

Bethany Grey, editor at eHow.com, offered a list of suggestions for dads and stepdads to celebrate Father’s Day in a blog titled “How to Celebrate Father’s Day in a Blended Family.” I don’t agree with all of it, but some of Grey’s suggestions make sense, including the idea to shop for Father’s Day cards with the child. It’s a good stepdad experience to share.

Mostly, I like the idea of doing something the day before, something Grey didn’t hit on. This year, we grilled hot dogs and steak the day before Mother’s Day and had a picnic outside. It was fun and we did the family thing. I’m thinking we’ll do the same with my girlfriend’s son the day before Father’s Day next month.

One thing I’ve never wanted to do is give my girlfriend’s son the notion that I’m replacing his dad, at least not that way. This makes for something of a juggling act at times. But that’s a blog for another day.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 10:35 am |
| | 2 Comments »

Advertisement

A dad’s place is…. on a blog

April
23

Leave it to a dad’s blog to make this case, but the Examiner’s fatherhood blog has put out a list of five reasons why dad blogs are worth keeping an eye one. You can read the post here.

(Kathy Gardner/The Journal News)

Obviously, Parents Place is a general parenting blog, with capable dads AND moms in the mix. So, we’re more inclusive and take a wider view of parenting.

But I’ve always felt that there’s a need out here for more of a voice from fathers, whether it’s dads in traditional homes like my co-bloggers Jon and Len, or myself,  a father building a blended family. So it’s reassuring to see a list like this out there, especially with more dads involved in hands-on parenting.

And remember, there’s no shortage of good dad blogs on our blogroll, including Crazy Computer Dad and David Mott’s Dad’s House.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 8:00 am |
| | 3 Comments »

Why I’m walking in the March for Babies

April
22

Last summer, one of my husband’s college friends, Steve, came to visit with his wife and two children, a little boy a bit older than my daughter and a baby. They stayed with us for a couple of days and we all had a nice time, visiting the Long Island Sound and just relaxing. It was the first time I met his wife, Jennifer, and we hit if off right away. The Pumpkin fell in love with the baby. A few months later, we found out they were expecting a new baby who was due in June. But something went wrong. They’ve spent the last several days in the hospital delivering the baby, who died. We’ve been getting e-mail updates about the experience, including a last e-mail that came at 2 a.m. this morning with details about the keepsake box with a lock of hair and some photos that they brought home instead of a baby.

It’s been hard to get Jennifer and Steve out of my mind. I could easily have ended up with a similar box if it weren’t for the life-saving treatment my daughter received at White Plains Hospital Center.

Four years ago on April 20, I went into the hospital showing symptoms of preeclampsia, a disease that affects about 5 percent of pregnancies and poses risk for both mother and baby. I hadn’t read about preeclampsia before and didn’t really know what the doctors were so concerned about. I had been showing the signs of preeclampsia for a couple of weeks and had even spent a weekend on bedrest, but the doctors didn’t use that word yet. Here’s a clue: If your hands are so swollen that you lose sensation, it’s time to worry. Swollen ankles in pregnancy: Not so much.

My first night I was dazed, suffering from a horrible cold, unable to sleep. Over the next few days, the signs were clear that the doctors expected me to deliver my daughter early, but wanted to wait as long as possible. I was given steroid shots to mature my daughter’s lungs, moved to a private room and ordered to rest on my left side. In retrospect, I think I went into a bit of denial. After my cold cleared up by the weekend, I actually felt really great. It was sunny outside and I didn’t feel like staying in bed. It seemed absurd that I would actually have the baby that early, and so I discounted the idea, especially since I felt so healthy. The swelling had gone down and I didn’t have other classic symptoms, like a headache or pain in my abdomen. (I found out later that these are important symptoms of something going wrong. At the time, I just knew that nurses came into my room every four hours to ask me, “Do you have a headache? Any pain in your abdomen?”)

Every day, I rode a wheelchair down to radiology and got a look at my baby, who was healthy but tiny. Things were going so well that after a week and a half, on May 2, my doctor during rounds that morning even talked about maybe letting me go home on bedrest for a while. That was before he got the results of that morning’s blood draw. (Oh yeah, every morning I gave about five vials. Fun stuff.)

Later that afternoon, I had just showered and was sitting up in bed, making phone calls and relaxing when a phalanx of nurses from labor and delivery strode into my room with a gurney and told me I was coming with them to deliver the baby. This was a shock. My own nurse came in behind them and said the doctor had been trying to reach me, but I had been on the phone. My bloodwork showed that I had developed a complication of preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, which basically meant that internal organs like my liver weren’t doing so hot. The baby had to come out, or else we both would be in trouble.

After panicked calls to reach my husband to come as quickly as possible and to my sister-in-law for reassurance, I was prepped for a C-section. That evening, my daughter was born at 26 weeks, five days, gestation. She weighed just 1 pound, 13.4 ounces, or 834 grams. I didn’t even get to see her born because I was so swollen the anesthesiologist couldn’t get a needle into my spine. I had general anesthesia. I didn’t get to see her for more than 24 hours because I was stuck in bed in a haze thanks to a magnesium sulfate drip. I didn’t hold her for almost a week because she was so delicate. I just sat by her incubator, lightly touching her with my hand and talking to her. Her entire hand was the size of the tip of my pinky finger. The first days were so scary that it’s hard to even describe what it was like. The first week of a preemie’s life will determine what happens for the rest of it. And for us, the news was all good. She didn’t need a ventilator, and was breathing with just positive air pressure. No bleeding in the brain. Lots of pee. A feisty attitude. (That hasn’t changed.) I got to hold her for the first time six days after she was born. It happened to be Mother’s Day. Part of me is still in that chair, holding my swaddled baby for the first time, oblivious to everything else. One of the neonatologists walked up to me and started to talk to me about how well she was doing, but I ignored him, repeating over and over, “My baby, my baby.”

Today, she weighs about 33 pounds and is as tall as some 5-year-olds. And when she climbs into my lap for snuggles, the world still disappears and my mind repeats, “My baby, my baby.”

On Sunday, for the fourth year, I will be lacing up my sneakers and heading to White Plains to walk with hundreds of other parents who know exactly how I felt in that first moment I held my daughter. Parents of preemies never take a day or a minute for granted. We know how easily we could have come home with nothing but heartbreak. We are thrilled for the chance to help out the March of Dimes, which is committed to making sure that more babies come home with their parents. I pester my family, friends and coworkers for donations because I know that every dollar raised will go to programs to prevent premature birth and to make sure that the ones who are born early, like my Pumpkin, will live.

While I was writing this, my daughter came over to me to give me a hug and show off the blue ponytail holder her grandmother put in her (long and messy) hair today. I have never cut her hair, which is below her waist. I hadn’t realized until this moment why I haven’t, even though I know that it would be nice to have a lock of the baby blond at the tips before the whole head turns darker. I don’t need a keepsake. I have my baby. I’m marching on Sunday so that other moms can say the same.

May 8, 2005

May 8, 2005

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

Who lays down the law?

April
10

Who wears the pants in a blended family? More to the point, who handles discipline?

According to blended-family blogger Cathy Meyer, the biological parent should discipline their own child or children. The stepparent should, in turn, deal with their own child.

Well, it’s an interesting dilema. I find that in our home my girlfriend and I often defer to the biological parent to dictate terms and punishment for misdeed by the kids. For us, this always entails a verbal reprimand and nothing more. But the tendency of both our children to be a tad more uneasy with the stepparent issuing the reprimand is part of a learning curve that I think takes time – and we’re still working on.

But I have never seen it as a black-and-white issue. We do consult each other regularly and we have gotten comfortable with correcting or issuing mild reprimands to the others’ child. If it’s still a learning process it is more so for our two boys, and they are coming along.

Still, Meyer seems to take a harder line in her blog:

“As a stepparent, you should avoid any decisions about the discipline of your stepchild. This can and does depend on the situation but in most cases, it is best to leave issues of discipline up to the biological parent. Your role as a stepparent is that of mentor and supporter, not parent. This is something many stepparents have a hard time coming to terms with.”

I don’t think it’s that rigid, and I think it is something that has to be overcome for a blended family to eventually succeed. What do you think?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 11:45 am |
| | 4 Comments »

Advertisement

Shameless proud parent post

March
27

No, not from me. But this is something that really moved me and I felt it was worth sharing.

A co-worker today attended the Westchester County Women’s Hall of Fame Awards luncheon, at which his daughter was receiving the Merrill Lynch Westchester Leadership Award.

I think her words best relay why she was worthy of the honor and the scholarship it brings. These are excerpts from the essay she submitted as part of her application for the award:

“I have always been different. In books and movies, being different is always good. The hero and heroine are never ordinary people, they are special and gifted.
“But being different in real life is not always a good thing; most of the time it’s painful, lonely, and just plain hard. I have cerebral palsy and other learning disabilities including difficulty reading and writing.
“I would have to say that my disability, and more importantly people’s reaction to it, has had a big impact on my life and made me who I am today.
“It’s amazing how being different can be like holding a magnifying glass up to reveal those who are kind as well as those who are cruel. While I consider many of my ‘disabilities’ to be ‘abilities,’ I have had to spend much of my life learning how to be like others so I will be accepted.
“I hope to become a teacher, a special education teacher or maybe a social worker or an advocate for people with disabilities. I’d like to help other people like me get the help they deserve. Maybe I’ll even get a PhD.”

Wow. That’s some young lady.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
| | Comments Off on Shameless proud parent post

My bigtime movie goof

March
24

Sure, I should’ve paid more attention. But I didn’t.

So, here I was taking my 11-year-old son to see Watchmen at the theater, not having done enough legwork to know that there was heavily graphic violence, sex and nudity. Whoops.

Well, he knows enough to cover his eyes during certain moments (aided by me, of course). But I did stay the course and we sat through the whole movie. Yes, I considered walking out, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong: This wasn’t Last Tango in Paris, nor was it Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was just a tad over the top.

In hindsight, I wouldn’t take him to see it had I known the extent of it all. But I also reason with myself that you can’t shelter a kid from everything. My philosophy on cursing, for instance, is that he is in no way allowed to use foul language. However, I know he hears it in the course of his day and has to simply censor himself.

I see this movie experience similarly. Of course, now he figures if we saw that he can go see Slumdog Millionaire and it would be okay. Not sure I’m ready to make that leap.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Study: More kids now homeless

March
11

Troubling report his week from The National Center on Family Homelessness, which released a study that found 1 in 50 children in the U.S. were without a home. That’s about 1.5 million kids, according to the study. And the troubling thing is that the figures were compiled in 2005-2006 — before the current economic downturn that has more and more parents without jobs.

(Angela Gaul/The Journal News)

The study ranks New York 38th overall in a national review of states. The Empire state was 39th in child well being, 31st in risk of child homelessness, and 22nd in extent of child homelessness. It also classified New York’s policy and planning on the issue as inadequate.

It’s just a reminder that as more folks end up out of work, there’s a whole generation of kids tagging along.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 at 11:39 am |
| | 2 Comments »

Advertisement
Advertisement

About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


Subscribe

Daily Email Newsletter:






About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE



Poll