Ask Toi: How do you tell someone about your will and whom your kids will go if you should die and it’s not them?

Well this was an interesting question this morning.

The back story for my readers is the husband and Wife made their wills to include who their young children should go to in their death…..the grandparents are upset they weren’t chosen….

First of all I pray that you are here for your children and this will never have to go into an active plan. However the reality of your children not going to either parents is a harsh reality. Parents being a caregiver after they have raised their own kids isn’t always an ideal situation. Age of your parents, their health, how active they are with their own grandkids and suitability doesn’t always match title. You need to take into consideration how you were raised and how the grandparents interact with the kids to play a major role in them being chosen.

There should be many factors in making that hard decision. It shouldn’t be based upon friendships or family relationships to be honest with you. It should be about whom aligns the best with you and your husband’s parenting style and who will give your children the same type of lifestyle that you would if you were still here. You can’t choose people to raise your children in your place just based on relationships.

Also how often does the children interact with whomever your choosing? How active are they involved with the kids? These things matter. Think about you not being here, your kids being devastated and then having to live with people they know only in title. If whomever you’re choosing hasn’t made efforts to be in the kids’ lives they shouldn’t be at the top of the list. Also one of the biggest things to think about is how whomever you choose deals with discipline. Discipline is a major compartment in who you choose. If someone doesn’t align with you and your husband than they shouldn’t be on the list. Also factors with age and appropriateness needs to be within your decision making process as well.

So although either parents don’t make the list you can approach it in the sense of being honest with them. Let them know that you love them and you want this decision to be in the best interest of the children involved. Parenting is hard and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. You can talk as little as you want about the choice.

Know that they will be upset. There is no way around it. They will be offended that you come off feeling that their parenting is not enough. This is what they feel. Even if it’s true you have a right to feel the way you do. They will think that you don’t value what they taught you and it’s not good enough for your kids. Some parents may come off rash and demonstrate further why they weren’t chosen by being even more disconnected to their kids. Either way you have to find a way to take all of these things into consideration but still make the decisions for the kids at hand that matter!!

Ultimately whatever chooses you make is dependent on you and your husband and as long as you can live with the decisions, everyone else around you will have no choice but to accept it. Also even though you have not chosen the grandparents, still apply the same logic in whom you do select.

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Better Breakfast Month

There are so many holidays in the month of September. I do think it’s a good idea that they whomever makes these days made better breakfast to be in September. It’s a good idea because it correlates to kids going back to school!

food gourmet on top of brown table

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

We no that in the United States unfortunately some kids struggle with meals. This really ought not be but it is a reality for some. Breakfast is super important. As an adult it’s hard for me to concentrate when I’m hangry. (Angry + hungry) how much more for our children? I know some folks really can’t eat breakfast. I am not one of those people. I would encourage the non breakfast eaters to at least eat fruit.

Eating better starts with choices. Having a variety of choices comes down to being prepared. Instead of sugary foods invest in whole grain options. I would suggest prepping it ahead of time. Time is the biggest issue with breakfast.  Not having enough because the stress in the morning and trying to be on time sometimes clashes. I get that!It’s easier to grab on the go.  The same breakfast sandwiches you can purchase at a fast food place can be made at home. Invest in fruit. Invest in cereals with less sugar and be creative. You can have fresh fruit in your oatmeal or cereal as an alternative.Make the time to prepare things at night meaning packing bags can help cut down on time.  If you have lunch and breakfast prepared you can be more in charge with what you place in your body.  Often times we shove food into our body and grab food from vending machines because of not being prepared.  If you have a family if you mirror the change you want to see it makes it easier for others around you to align.  Not all food that is grab worthy is bad.  You can grab yogurt and eat that with some granola and fruit and have that be better than a sugary donut a diet soda.

Even if you say come on “I can’t do that,” commit to a few days a week of making healthier choices. Once you see how much better you feel it may be an easier to make that change stick!  The benefits of eating a better breakfast:

  • Better Concentration
  • Aids in weight los
  • Helps in portion control for the day
  • Better productive day

Can you step your game durng breakfast?  Give it a try!

Ask Toi: How do I deal with my Parents thinking I’m not following old school parenting with my own kids?!

This is multilayered. This could have come up if you’re making comments about new school parenting is better. It can come up if you do something that an old school parent thinks is too new school. It could come up if you ask for advice from old school parent but then do the opposite.

Depending on when it comes up is how you proceed. There’s no doubt that old school parents believe and hold to their old school values. That can be from diapering to discipline. So if you are stating how better the new school way is better often times old school parents hear “you think you’re a better parent,” or they hear, “you think my ways are wrong.”

If the argument of who is better comes up during a time when the new school parent does something in front of an old school parent that could mess with the new school parent and you think you’re not good enough. You may feel pressure for approval and it can mess you up if you aren’t feeling it. If you ever ask an old school parent advice and then don’t take it, it could come off as a “why you ask?!” This is probably the most irritating interactions.

So here’s the thing:

1. Parenting is subjective: you won’t ever get to the point where you feel 100% feel that you are quite finding your rhythm and old school parents are super high fiving you! It would be nice but not everyone has that happy mesh.

2. Old school and new old school ways are within you. You will fuse them but only how much depends on you.

3. Try not to take everything said to heart. Between your own parents and finding your way and the world with their long laundry list of to dos and not to do it will be hard to find your actual way. It’s okay!

4. Trust your instinct-this is hard but necessary

When I had my first child she was born 6 weeks early and had to stay a few days in the NICU. I was fortunate that it wasn’t a longer stay. I relied on my own mother to guide me. She gave me basic parenting skills. However my child had a lot of health issues therefore I had to rely on the doctors for a lot that first couple of years. Probably more than I would have all things considered. A lot of folks was knocking me for it. I trusted my instinct, and did some give and take with those around me. I pushed through! You’re not choosing one side over the over. You’re choosing what you need to feel successful in parenting. Also it’s okay that old school won’t agree. Parenting comes with thick skin. Take things with a grain of salt. No the things that our parents did when we were younger will work now, times have changed but what’s the same is wanting better for your child, keeping them safe and healthy, and working hard to provide. Be gentle with yourself but stand strong in your decisions.

Back to School: Parent Edition

Are you excitedly awaiting for back to school? Your kids have eaten you out of house and home? A couple of them you’re not sure what to do? I get it! Rejoice! It’s back to school time! So I’ve written a blog for how you can your kids ready for back to school. It was filled with all great and helpful suggestions. I am quite proud of that piece, but now it’s time to shift gears for the parents. Yes the parents.

I told you how you can get the kids successful but it’s the parents turn! You are the one in charge of you and helping you get ready for back to school first helps the kids get aligned!

Plan Early

Listen I’ve had some years where I’ve gotten supplies last-minute. It happens for various reasons but plan and do as much as you can early enough to cut down on anxiety. I for one will bargain hunt for supplies. So for me aligning sales is important to me. It’s important to know that I’m saving money. Let’s keep it real, having 3 kids means that back to school expenses expensive. I’ve never understood my parent’s life until recent years. I as a child just thought parents just went to the store, paid and rolled. I had no clue until I had my own that there is work to be able to do it all!! Shout out to parents who are trying to do their best.

Make a list and come up with a plan to attack school uniforms, supplies, tuition and back packs. It’s imperative to figure out as early as possible your game plan of attack!

Look over previous report cards

Although it would seem that this is exclusively for your child to do, learning to see trends will assist you as the parent to outsource help. It’s not ashamed to not know something it’s a shame to not do all you can to identify ways to make your child as successful as they can be. This may mean helping to fine tune their skill sets. We noticed a few lacks in concentration and so we started taking it back with practice work to help our children get better in that area. There are several sites that offer free printouts. Also you should have been tuning in often times the previous teacher is a great place to start. We had the kids start their Summer assignments early. We also increased reading and I looked online for other books to add to the reading list.

Get the Kids on their early back to school 3 weeks or more

We used to wait until the week before school and then send them to bed early and wake them up like a test run. This year outside of a few movie nights we have kept them on the same schedule. We didn’t even implement our normal Summer schedules. They are in camp all day and it’s easier for them and in reality for us. So far with us doing that and making them keep after camp studying at least 2 days a week it’s been helpful. My son is zooming through his sight words and our daughter is arising to the occasion in her work. It sounds harsh but some kids can’t really break too much and for the parents the house can have that well deserved rest time!!

Reorganize

It’s important for you to either place a station or two aside for the kids ahead of time for paperwork. One of the worst things is getting a slew of papers and have no clear direction of where it is. Our kids school don’t play and will give you an eye roll if you request another copy. I used to get so mad if they gave me an attitude. I soon stepped back and realized the lesson is helping the kids understand that you don’t always get the chance to fix things. I also started making copies or scanning forms. This way I didn’t have to bother with things. We never let on to our kids that we had the back up. We would depending on what it was give a consequence like delayed electronic use for having us assist in obtaining or using the back up.

Attitude Check

We all know back to school is coming. There is zero no reason to be upset, frustrated and upset that money is going to have to be spent. Even if your child is public school there will be money to be spent. You can attend a free back to school event in your town if you need it. However adjusting your attitude will help your child to adjust as well. They are relying on you to show them the ropes. Having a good attitude in general is helpful! Trust me going from this:

Versus this:

You decide!! So may your wallet be blessed, your nerves settled as we all push onward and upward towards our children education. Also may your wine glasses be bountiful as the time draws near!!

Take the Step out of Stepdad; Tribute to my Dad!!

Stepdads especially when they are great dads should be treated with the same respect as a regular father. Stepdads who take on the responsibility of a father are admiral. So today we salute the men who stepped in stepped up.

Stepdads from Hell

So before we get all gushy in our feelings let’s deal with the stepdads who only play their part to pretend for the women they marry that they are really there for the kids. This is awful. Many of these men can create more issues and make it hard for the marriage or relationship they entered. The kids are isolated. Many develop feelings of anger. Now if a mom is about her kids first she would get to the bottom of it. Sadly there are some who are concerned with keeping a man and won’t even on the surface look into the situation.

Stepdads who Step it Up

So I’m going to make it personal. My mom met my dad who is my step dad legally but my real dad in real life. I was around 5 or even younger so for me, my dad (I’ve yet to call him step anything) was and still is the only father I’ve ever known. There have been many things up and down that has occurred in our relationship but let me publicly say THANK YOU! My dad is an amazing man! He is active duty military, he has been to every function my sister and I have ever had, he helped us with our school work, took us on vacations, and has been an outstanding father and man!! He’s been in our lives so tight that some of my friends wouldn’t have ever known that he was my stepdad. The only time I talk about step is for things like this or if asked. It’s not a secret in anyway. He has just been a pillar in our life.

I can say that he set the bar high for any dad. His dad my grandfather is an amazing man and I’m not hyping them for the blog either, offline they are both amazing!! When I grew up I couldn’t use the I ain’t know my real dad as an excuse to act up, make a scene, or be less than I needed to be. My dad slipped in my life as if he had been there from our very existence. He was tough and it’s those tough moments that I’ve ever was really mad at him. Now with my kids I get it! He had to be stern. I was definitely the handful out of my siblings. I always appeared to be the one who didn’t give issues but it wasn’t true.

If you have a step dad make sure you make him feel that he is the most amazing father. Do your best to salute him the best way you can for Father’s Day. My real dad has never been in the picture and because of the love of my step dad the only thing I’ve ever have had was curiosity and never a lack of love. I never felt empty. I’ve never felt like as a daughter I needed anything. I think when I moved from my hometown to Philadelphia the only thing I’ve always remembered as I got older was my dad and I’s dates. It would be our time and it was the time he would let me pick his brain about men and relationships. Trust me it made for interesting conversations.

I’m sure as a daughter I have hurt him. I know I have. The time when I was younger and gave him an issue because I was a kid trying to figure it all out. I’m extremely head strong. He definitely pushed me to be vocal. That can be a blessing and a curse. I know that I’ve had moments where I’ve embarrassed him. For all of those moments I hope I have given you all of the apologies you were due!

My dad and I when we talk we never say goodbye we just say see you later. If he would say goodbye I would be like what’s going on? See you later leaves it up that we are just waiting for the next conversation or meet up. My dad makes me feel like the best daughter in the world.

I love you dad!! Happy Father’s Day!!

From the Heart of a Parent

I spoke about it briefly but I want it to be super clear that as a parent I can’t imagine sending my kids off to school and someone coming into the school and taking my children’s lives.  I can’t! It hurts that parents are having to deal with this.  After the Parkland shooting it has left me numb.  I felt numb after all of these rash of shootings to be honest. I am tired of being numb.  I wished that no child had to fear for their lives.  If you watched the videos that arose after the Parkland shooting, hearing the gun go off, hearing those babies cry and scream in terror, it hurts all of us.

Regardless of where you fit in all of this, the fact still remains that 17 families had to feel yet another impact of gun violence.  I could debate either way on the scale but none of that will bring back those lives that were taken.  They were taken.  Young people who had bright futures ahead of them are gone. As a parent it makes me re-evaluate what I do with my kids.  I stopped worrying less about if the house was super tidy in the morning over telling my kids I love them and making sure they are secure. I wasn’t worried if everything was perfect. In our  home we strive to love on them instead of worrying about a few meltdowns.  We stopped worrying about if everything ran according to schedule and focused on who mattered.

Today my family and I was interviewed about how we feel about all Parkland and school safety. I don’t feel like my kids are super safe regardless of the extra additives in place.  People are dangerous period.  So now I spend my time making my mornings and my time with them in general is solid.  Making sure I can always say that as a husband and wife team we make sure we treat each morning as if it was their last.  Nothing else outside of that matters.

The experience of even being interviewed has pulled on my heart-strings.  I spoke to Anna twice and I remember the first time having tears in my eyes.  This isn’t just about getting a story out.  I practice what I say everyday.  We huddle as a family in the mornings.  We do our best not to be in such a rush…….

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Here is a look at the article written by Philadelphia Inquirer, Anna Orso

Philadelphia Inquirer

Teach the Babies-You’re Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

So this week the recurring theme has been forgiveness.  This is a tough lesson for many adults let alone my own son. This week for both of my older kids the trying to teach them to understand that its okay to have a disagreement with a person, work things out or decide to work things out but be cordial and not be friends.

My son who is 6 is having the hardest time which is to be expected.  I do not expect him to understand adult like themes and to me forgiveness will come to him as he grows and matures.  So the issue is allowing my kids to find out whom feels safe to them.  I even teach my kids even those closest to them can give bad vibes, you have the right to retreat.  I do not make them give hugs or be around ANYONE who makes them uncomfortable.  This means that if you come to my child and my child rejects you for whatever reason, there’s no make them give into your insecurity of showing you love they don’t feel is genuine to give. We stress to kids to be aware but then judge them for feeling ill feelings.  My husband and I don’t.  We try to help them work through these feelings.

Image result for safety with kids

For my daughter she has been going to the same school for years and most of the kids she has known since Kindergarten.  At this point she is well aware of certain people’s triggers, how they act, and what they do when the teachers and principals aren’t watching.  I am not one  of those parents that push my kids into certain friendships.  If there are mean girls in her school and she identifies that is who they are, I trust that I have raised her well to this point to know who they are and if she chooses not to embrace them outside of a school setting that is fine. We really can’t push the all the kids are angels routine.  I am all for her or my son working it out but its one thing to work it out and it’s another thing to have a blind eye to a problematic child and act as if that child isn’t an issue.

So this week my son has been having an issue with one child in particular.  He has tried being nice.  He has tried having meetings with the kid etc. However to no avail.  This kid is problematic.  My advice to my son was be cordial.  Work together when you have to in the classroom because in life you can’t always disengage with someone just because you don’t care for them.  However at recess is your time to play.  You shouldn’t have to spend your time in recess trying to push back negativity from one child.  Some days he gets the message other days he doesn’t.  The days he doesn’t its a hard conversation to have.

Yes we are all for kids getting along.  Yes we are well aware that at this age kids go back and forth and are learning how to socialize. The same rules that apply to me with other adults do NOT work for kids.  However let’s also keep it real and stop acting like some of these kids already come in the door with whatever they have at home and spew the most hate, the most vile words on other kids and in the name of letting kids be kids we give these kids many chances in hopes they will fare better.  They don’t always fair well.  So we can’t just act like it’s not the case.  As a parent I would love to tell my kids that the world is awesome all the time and that they won’t have issues with other kids or other people but that is not the case.

Image result for safety with kids

My conversation with my son is about helping him weed out those he thinks are bad news for him and show him how to make healthy relationships with those who want the same in return.  He needs to be cordial meaning just because there is friction, school work still needs to be done.  If his teacher assigns him to the student that he is having issues with then he needs to buckle down and get things done.

Parenting is hard and I am sure there will be someone who disagrees with my conversation but the beautiful thing about parenting is that it is an individual pathway per parent and its a collective pathways for the parents involved.  My only hope is that my kids get to the point where they don’t waste energy on those who don’t mean them well.  They learn to keep their peace with them and not get entangled with those kids who have ill intentions.  That’s my hope for adults too.  Stop giving your energy to the bad person in your life regardless of relationship.  If it doesn’t serve you, leaves you feeling less about yourself, etc then the point is moot, leave them alone and allow the right folks to come in your life. These are life lessons.  They should be taught early.  I want my kids to grow into confident human beings that know what they want, who they want, and to go where they are celebrated not where they are tolerated.  These lessons aren’t to wait to be learned.  These lessons are taught early on.