Fat Momma Syndrome

Fat Momma Syndrome, or FMS.   You will not find this syndrome on any medical list.  You will not find its traits or characteristics described anywhere but here.  This label is my creation based on years of observations as a youth pastor.   Caveat;  I am not attempting to criticize any woman’s size. That would be the pot calling the kettle black.   I am labeling a parenting temptation.

I believe the syndrome begins long before the teen years, but that is when I saw it reach its peak.  I am referring to the teen years of the daughter, not the mother.   As she enters her teen years, her mom is entering her mid-late thirties or maybe her early forties. Momma no longer has the youthful figure that she had at 15 or 20 years of age, but she remembers. perfect-parent

 

Her daughter is beautiful and shapely.   Momma is proud of her.  Rather than helping her daughter to learn to dress tastefully and modestly, she allows or even encourages her to dress in ways that attract attention to her body.   I have many times been shocked at the alluring outfits that mom helped select for her daughter.

I think psychologists might use words such as transference or projection.  Others might say mom is living vicariously through her daughter.  However it is described, it is sad.   It is sad that mom is putting so much emphasis on outward beauty, which she knows changes and does not last.   It is sad that mom is passing along to her daughter her own inner struggles with self-image.

My own daughter was more sensible than I in this area.  I am proud that she dressed more modestly as a teen than did I as a teen.   As an adult, she has my permission to speak to me about my clothing if I wear something unflattering or too aged or too youthful or immodest.

 

Moms, no matter your size or shape, help your daughters to sail into womanhood with grace and style.  Perhaps together you could learn about fashion, styles, body shapes and discovering what looks best on each of you.  Teach your daughters to be discriminating and individuals not controlled by fads.    Hygiene, personal grooming, make up, and hair care are other areas that need to be taught.   Learning to do these well will instill personal confidence, which is very attractive.

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Teen Years

Is there a particular age of children which you most enjoy?  Some people love babies and others are happier with children who can talk and communicate clearly.  I have a brother-in-law who adores three year old children.  He has volunteered in the three year old’s class at church for nearly thirty years.    Three year olds can say and do  amazing and entertaining things.   I have heard parents say their favorite age is whatever age their child is currently.   I can understand that sentiment.

I am a champion for the teenagers.   My teenagers were awesome.  Having teens has many benefits for the parents and the family.   Having a teen can mean no longer hiring an outside babysitter for younger siblings.  When my teens babysat their siblings, I still paid them.   Teens enjoy many activities which adults also enjoy such as movies that both parents and teens wish to see.  It is nice to view movies beyond the G rating.

LaDonna

Teens are acquiring skills and abilities which can benefit the family.  They may be more tech savvy than their parents.   Teens may have valuable ideas and lend solutions to conflicts or problems.   Their maturing minds and bodies enable them to be more productive and capable to truly help.  I loved seeing my sons move furniture or change the oil in the car.

As teens all our children had employment, which meant they had their own spending money and could contribute to some of their expenses such as paying part of the registration fees for summer camps and other big ticket events.  Once they earned their driver’s licenses they could transport themselves and siblings.

I thoroughly enjoyed having mature discussions with our teens.  It is fascinating to watch their ability to reason and think logically develop.  A favorite activity was discussing literature with all of them.  Our second son was and is a voracious reader.  I could not keep up with his pace of reading.  Fortunately I had been a reader for 30ish years before he began reading.

DJ2000Parents do not have to dread the teenage years.  Those years have many wonderful aspects, too.   Then . . . . .  poof. . . . . they are over and gone.    I think the teen years are the pay-off –years for all your hard work of discipline and nurturing throughout their childhood.

One of the biggest struggles during the teens is the desire for independence.   I can completely relate to that desire.  I hated high school because I felt like it kept me from real life.  I was thrilled when those three and a half years ended.

Parents can help their teens with this struggle by stopping the struggle.  Give them more and more independence.  They need it and it is good preparation for them. Stop holding their hand, they don’t want or need you to do that.  Stop bailing them out when they fail.  Let them manage their school work and their schedule without your constant supervision.  That is how they become independent.   Give them more responsibility and accountability for themselves.  Be available but do not micromanage them –  particularly once they are in high school.  Yes, they still need to follow house rules.  Give them a curfew only if it is needed.

I recall when I was in high school asking my dad to help me make a choice about something.  His reply was, “what do you think you should do?”  It was a great answer and one I used with my children.

Enjoy your child at every age/stage, including the teens.

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me with my eldest and youngest sons tackling geometry

Turbulent Times

I have to admit I was quite surprised as a parent to discover that not just girls, but also boys, journey through turbulent times as they enter adolescence.  I just didn’t see it coming.  Bam it hit.  As the parent I wasn’t prepared.   I know my son was not prepared either.

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Suddenly there was a big increase in late night discussions.  The discussions were often intense.  The crises were real, but they were not really as disastrous as they seemed to my almost teenager. As the parent I had to quickly learn how to navigate this new and often turbulent phase of child’s development.

Here are some of the things I learned to do and not do. These are not necessarily one’s natural response nor are they easy.

  1. Don’t laugh at them, even if you have to pinch yourself to prevent doing so
  2. Don’t’ belittle the situation
  3. Listen attentively
  4. Acknowledge their feelings and thoughts
  5. Help them see that the mountain-size problem is not quite as big as it seems
  6. Empathize, but keep it about them, not you
  7. Ask open questions which require more than a yes or no answer
  8. Help them understand that feelings can change quickly and are not always reliable
  9. Help them discover options and solutions
  10. Allow them to choose options and solutions

Our goal as parents is to raise independent, mature adults.  This is a process which requires trial and error.  As teens they need to gain more and more freedom.  With freedom comes more options and decision making.   They need to be allowed to make choices and even make mistakes as much can be learned from both.

Some teens need to talk more than others. Keep the dialogue open and be available so that molehill size problems can remain molehills and not become mountains.

Teen Drama

“Teenage girls may have some difficulty adjusting to the onset of puberty, some more than others.  And puberty may be a very difficult time for some teenagers, but there is nothing . . . .”

These are the words of my favorite columnist, John Rosemond, on November 21, 2015 in his Living With Children, column titled High-drama teen girls are new.   I love John’s daily advice on parenting.  It is insightful,straight-forward, no-nonesense, and practical.

This particular article ends with, “There have been many victims of the children’s liberation movement, but the most aggrieved have been the children themselves.”

If your local newspaper does not carry author, speaker and parenting guru, Mr. Rosemond, he can be accessed at  http://www.rosemond.com/

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Ten Points for Teens, Driving and Parents

My recently turned 15 year old son was enrolled in a driver’s education course.  I thought I ought to take him out to do some practice driving.  We went to an empty parking lot.  To describe his accelerating and braking as turbulent is an under exaggeration.  I instructed him to simply drive around the lot trying to stay in the driving lanes and not cross any of the parking lines.  He hit at least a dozen imaginary cars that were legally parked.   Pulling into and exiting a parking space was more harrowing.   My nerves were frazzled and so were his.   It had been a tempestuous fifteen minutes.   That was enough for lesson number one.H, D, D

That event occurred five years ago.  He eventually mastered driving and the state of Illinois issued him a driver’s license.   All of our children passed the significant milepost of acquiring their licenses and eventually owning a vehicle.  We had some good ideas and learned some valuable points in the process which I think are worth sharing.

  1. Enroll in driver’s education if possible. Choose either public school offerings or private driving school. Insurance companies offer discounts for having completed these courses.
  2. Insurance companies also offer discounts for good grades. The primary job of a high school student is to be a student.  Help your student keep that priority.   It pays.
  3. Starting with your 10-14 year old child, talk about road names and directions (N, S,  E,  and W) while out driving. Some roads change names at certain intersections, and some roads have word names as well as route numbers.   Sometimes say nothing and allow them to navigate you to a familiar place.  Some of my children were great at this and loved it and others were less adept.   This can even be done while bicycling.
  4. If you have a lawn tractor, driving it is good practice for other vehicle driving. You are the judge of your child’s level of maturing, but many six to ten year olds could be started on a lawn tractor.   We had an eight year old who was proficient at mowing on the lawn tractor and my husband literally drove farm tractors beginning at age five!
  5. Each state has individual rules for licensing teens. I suggest they have a driver’s permit for a full year so that they can gain experience under your supervision.  They need to drive in rain, snow, ice, and wind.  They should practice driving in day and night on residential roads, in business districts, on one-way roads, on dirt, gravel and highways.
  6. Help your student gain skill and familiarity with the systems of your vehicle including navigation, cruise-control, and some basic car care. H & Deb
  7. Offer a one year good driving monetary bonus to your newly licensed driver. The bonus is awarded to the driver who does not receive any tickets and does not cause an accident in their first year of licensed driving.   This cash payout will cost you less than increased insurance rates due to an accident or moving violations.   All five of our children received their bonuses.
  8. Do not give your 16 year old, new driver, or even an 18 year old high school graduate, a new car. They are not ready for it.  They do not need it.  A reasonable used vehicle is ideal. They should pay for some or all of the costs.  Many will crash it within two – three years or less.
  9. When they have an accident, do not take over. Help them to handle it.  When our fifth child had an accident I called the insurance company and handled all the paperwork.  That was not the best decision.  It would have been better to symbolically hold his hand, as he managed it all.  I robbed him of an important learning experience.
  10. We paid for vehicle insurance for our children as long as they were students in high school and college.  Upon graduation they became responsible for that living expense.

Driving is a vital step in helping your children gain independence from you.  And it is a great benefit to you.

Lifelines

Have you ever thrown a life line to someone? Have you ever needed a life line? I needed one today.  I was on the floor but I had not fallen.  I was hugging the commode at the public library.  I thought it was a simple visit to the restroom when face flushing, cold sweat and nausea suddenly hit full force.   Then the vomiting commenced.  I had succumbed to food poison.  Fortunately, I had my cell phone on me.  I called my husband to ask him to come into the ladies restroom to help me get up, out to the car, and go home.   A couple of hours later I was totally fine.

We generally think of lifelines as being used only by boaters or the elderly to assist them when they have” fallen and can’t get up” or have some other medical emergency.  Sometimes we need to be a lifeline for our children.   We need to be available and willing to bail them out of a rough situation.life line

Our eldest son was fourteen or fifteen years old when he stayed overnight at a friend’s home.   This friend had numerous siblings including a couple of very cute teenage sisters.  About bedtime one of the siblings asked another if they had seen the pet ball python, which was not in its aquarium.  No. No one knew its whereabouts.  No one seemed too concerned either, except our son who was afraid of snakes and was awake most of the night in his sleeping bag on the floor.  He decided it was better to stay than for his friend and his sisters to discover his fear.

I wish he had called home.   A couple of years later we obtained an 800 number connected to our home phone, for which we paid a small monthly fee.  This enabled our children to call us from anywhere.    We often told them that if they ever felt they were in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, they could call home at any time around the clock and we would arrive to come to their aid.  house phone

Many homes do not have landlines.  Most adults, teens, and some children have cell phones.  If your child does not have a cell phone, probably their friends do.  They just need to understand that you genuinely will not mind an interruption to rescue them any time day or night.

As children enter their upper teens and early twenties, parents should not have the same rescuer role.  Remember a parent’s goal is to raise an independent adult.  Independent adults should be making wiser decisions and facing the consequences when they fail to do so.  This can be very difficult for parents, but very necessary for the children.   Help your children to grow up.  When they are twenty do not take care of them in the same way you did when they were twelve or fifteen.    Gradually they need to become more and more independent and less and less dependent on parents.

A few months ago I spent a weekend with our adult daughter, who lives 200miles away.  I was there to assist her as she had her four wisdom teeth pulled.  She needed a lifeline and I was willing and happy to give her some physical assistance for a couple of days.  I didn’t mind assisting her and felt like my help was appropriate and healthy.  Each of our children are independent people and responsible for their lives, for which I am thankful.  They seldom need lifelines from us.  But as a family we are willing to throw each other a lifeline when needed.   I surely needed one while in the library restroom.