Tara Kennedy-Kline
Every child has an opinion and should be allowed to express it without fear of rejection or punishment ~ TKK

Ask yourself "What messages am I sending my child about communicating with me?"

For years, if my husband and I were having a conversation in our home, or just bantering back and forth, if either of our kids tried to interject or ask us a question, we wouldn't let them talk. We would usually stop them and say "This is an adult conversation!"

Eventually, my children began to yell and cry and carry on and become dramatic and my husband and I would get angry. Then they started to make up stories or lies to "tattle" on their friends...and my husband and I would scold them.

Then, one day, as my youngest son threw a fit in his room...I got quiet, got down on his level and just listened to him. At first he stopped yelling and asked "What are you doing!?"

"I'm just listening to you." I replied.

"Why are you listening to me?" he yelled

"Why wouldn't I listen to you Alex?"

..."Because no one ever listens to me..."

My heart was broken, but not because I was offended or hurt, but because I realized that I was raising a child who believed he was not worth listening to.
In a moment I understood why my kids were yelling and dramatic and needy and tattling and lying. Because they needed to use any or all of those things if they were going to be heard.

That day, I realized that if I was going to change the craziness that I had created in my home...I would have to start listening to my kids.

Today's Journaling: "What was my greatest accomplishment today?

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family." ~! Matthew 5:19
Tara Kennedy-Kline
As a work from home mom of 2 boys, one of which is on the autism spectrum, I spend a great deal of time on line looking up the latest tips, techniques and strategies for being the best parent I can be for my kids…but what I have come to find all too often are nasty, lashing, mean spirited comments to otherwise benign, opinion based articles written by intelligent, well meaning authors.

It seems that topics like "breast feeding", “the family bed” and “potty training” have hit some kind of personal nerve and everyone, whether they are parents or not, have suddenly grown the most amazing set of internet balls ever and are unleashing their venom on anyone who has an opposing opinion or is unaware of a personal tragedy that happened to them when they were 2 years old and has scarred them for life.

Really people? Is this what our “village” of parenting has come to? Insult, ridicule and judgment over topics that truly will not have any effect on your life at all whatsoever?…

My beef is the fact that there are children in our country who are still being abused, both physically and verbally in their homes on a daily basis…there are children being neglected, starved and even killed by the people who are supposed to be raising and protecting them and we have the audacity to tear each other up on line over whether or not we should be allowed to take our kids on an airplane?!?!? We have no problem ripping parents a new one if they dare to let their child run in the isles of a grocery store yet the person next door to at least one of us is refusing their child meals and locking them in a closet as punishment…and in those situations, when a child truly NEEDS you and your big mouth could finally make a difference...suddenly those big internet balls shrink up like you jumped into a cold shower…

You know what? The next time you feel compelled to talk smack on a mother who chooses to give her child a pacifier…think about all the babies who are being shaken or beaten for crying too much, then bite your tongue; Because in the grand scheme of things…Those of us who are looking for information on line are simply doing the best we can with the information, resources and support we have available. So if your comments aren’t offering me one of those things, then all they are meant to do is give you 2 minutes of underserved fame, so keep them to yourself.

Bottom line: If you comment critics are such “child advocates” with such big opinions and big mouths…how about using that big voice to start a campaign for children that really matters…and put your money where your mouse is.
Jackie VanCampen
At 8:45 tonight I kissed and hugged my thirteen-year-old good bye as she walked through the security gate at LAX. My daughter Marla just took a quantum leap for what’s possible in her life. She is moving to Brazil with her dad and grandma for, at least right now, two years.

Up until the this point, I have been actually doing pretty good, considering I’m sending my daughter off to another country and won’t get to see her much when I’m used to seeing her every day. This weekend was rough. Friday I had a surprise “World of Possibilities” party, as I like to call it since it seems more joyous than Going Away party, and she was totally surprised. I had about 35 13/14 year olds. It was awesome and as we opened the door, all her friends threw confetti at her and shouted, “Surprise!!!!” Even though I did not get to see her expression, since all these kids pretty much swarmed her, she told me she almost had a heart attack! How’s that for excitement!

Yesterday must have been the hardest since I got to pack all her stuff, while she played with her friends all day and spent the night with her cousins. All I could think of was when I left Brazil to come back to America to live with my dad. I was nineteen years old. I remember the last few days all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and I think I barely spent any time with my mom. As I spent these last few days with Marla, I went back to that time 19 years ago, when I took the leap of faith to move here for a world of possibilities. Now as a mother I started wondering what my mom must have felt when I left or when I chose my friends over her. She never made me feel guilty about it just as I didn’t make Marla feel guilty about it, but I’m sure it hurt just as it hurt me. Not that she spent time with her friends, but that a piece of me was leaving, even though I know that this is going to be an amazing opportunity for her. I think in a way, this was an opportunity for me to heal whatever regrets I had about those years ago with my mom that I didn’t even know were there until this weekend; and as the anniversary of mom’s passing approaches tomorrow, I feel even more present to these feelings.

I was suppressing my emotions all day yesterday to the point where I yelled at my three-year-old for doing what three year olds do. I then realized that I had to connect to my heart and let my emotions flow. I hugged her as I cried and said sorry for yelling at her. I knew I had been pushing my emotions down and avoiding them at all costs. My chest started to hurt as I could feel my heart contracting. As I burst into tears I could feel my heart feeling more spacious and the sadness dissipating some. I felt released and light.

“Never mind I’ll find someone like you…” The radio was playing Adele as we got in the car to go to the airport. I started to cry since that’s one of Marla’s favorite songs. Then as we picked up a few of her friends to go with us, one of her friends, who wasn’t able to go with us, gave her a big hug. I completely broke down. I turned my face away so she wouldn’t see me sobbing, but it was impossible for her not to notice as I started sniffling and breathing with more intensity as I wiped my face over and over again. She held it together well. I hope she’s not learning to shove down her emotions…

I cried at least half way to the airport. I started to relate to the parents who send their kids away to college. You know they will be fine; you know you will see them again, but there’s an element of letting go that is quite challenging. It’s like a rite of passage into adulthood. They have been your child this whole time and then suddenly they are off on their own. It’s a feeling that only those who have experienced it can actually understand. It’s a desire to hold on and yet, there is a joy inside and excitement for what they will get to accomplish next. Although Marla is not there yet, if she does choose to stay the full two years her dad wants her to stay, she will be almost sixteen by the time she comes back. She will have grown so much and probably changed so much too. And then there’s the possibility she may really love her new life and choose to stay. One day at a time…

As we headed back home, my seven-year-old started to cry. She was sad to see her big sister leave. It also reminded me of my little brother. When I left Brazil he was two months shy of being five years old. I never really thought of what must have been like for him to have his big sister go. I wonder if he really ever understood why I was leaving. I wonder if he missed me as I see Jasmine missing Marla…

I see so many parallels between my life and Marla’s. I’m her twin as she likes to say. The difference now, however, is that when I left Brazil, it was more because my mom felt there were no opportunities for me there. The economy was terrible, there were no jobs, and she didn’t feel I had future that would really expand my life. With Marla, she has opportunities in both places and now she gets to go so she can experience her culture; become fluent in another language; expand her mind; and get to know her relatives better.

I wrote to her that home is where the heart is and she’s fortunate to have many places she can call home, and that this home is always open for her whenever she chooses to return.

I’m missing my big baby girl already and I know it will take some time to adjust; however, I’ll be plenty busy with my other two little ones and putting the finishing touches on my book which launches in March, which has been written to Marla.

This year has been quite the year with major events happening and I’m looking forward to an even greater 2012. More opportunities to travel to Brazil and beyond!
Tara Kennedy-Kline
Mom Reality Bytes #1:
Today as I witnessed a dear friend discipline their child, I noticed that they reached a point where their very valid point was replaced by a passionate desire to merely elicit a desired reaction from the child.

At that moment, the child was no longer hearing or engaged with the parent and the opportunity for teaching/learning was lost.

My first realization of the new year is this:
"When I use discipline to get the reaction I want out of my child, I fail my child. When I am focused on seeking to understand my child and the lesson I can teach through discipline, both my child and I will grow and achieve success."

Tara Kennedy-Kline
I was NOT a very "tiny" pregnant woman...I'm talking rest the plate on your belly to eat (standing up) kind of big. People had a lot of fun with it, except for my husband who thought it was ridiculous, and I rather enjoyed that time myself. It was truly a ton of fun having the attention and service of everyone who crossed your path. People would literally go out of their way to help me while I was growing my kids INSIDE my body; and I guess you could say that was where the delusion of "The Village" of parents began for me.
Chris and I looked very young for our age back then ( I swear, once you have kids, you begin to age in dog years) So when we would take our babies out in public, many times we would get the "angry eyes" stares, the all too common "tisk, tisk, tisk" as we pushed our baby stroller through the mall. Occasionally we would even hear groups of people (mostly women) express their inappropriate judgments out loud for all to hear. "Babies having babies! That's the problem with the world today! And OUR taxes are paying for it!" Keep in mind...I was 28! Certainly no baby!
What made it even harder for me was the obvious lack of support due to my assumed age. Heaven forbid I would leave my baby cry for 2 minutes while I looked for a place to sit down and feed him while pushing a stroller, searching a diaper bag for a blanket and juggling the bags of stuff I had bought. And don't even THINK about asking someone for help! One woman literally told me "You should have realized how hard this would be before you got knocked up!"
And that's where I began to realize, The Village doesn't exist anymore.
Still, my dream of support and a "sisterhood of mothers' wouldn't die completely, yet. It continued throughout my boy’s toddler and preschool years. I would join mom's clubs only to find that "play date" would have been more appropriately titled "bitch session" and trips to the playground were more like WWF competitions where everyone was picking on each other and fighting for control over the sandbox...and I'm not talking about the kids!
I guess I had an unrealistic vision of what this was all supposed to look like...I believed that things were like they used to be when I was little. If my mom had to use the restroom, or change a siblings diaper, or wash sand out of someone's eyes...the other mothers were right there to lend a hand. They would just step in and take over...it was seamless and it was acceptable...and it worked! So when did everyone become so against it?
Once my boys reached school age, I thought things would have to get better, right? If nothing else, there's always school spirit and a sense of community within a school district. At least that's how it was on TV and in the movies...so I just felt it THAT is where I would find my Village.
So I joined the PTA! That's where the REAL motherhood congregates...in my dreams we would plan dances and book sales, we would have Sunday brunches where we would plan field trips and count box tops. We would offer each other unconditional support and advice and it would be everything I dreamed of through those lonely pre-school years. Yeah.....no. Enough said.
That was the last straw...My dreams were officially dashed. I decided then and there that someone had nuked any villages that existed when I was a kid and there was no chance of rebuilding because the foundation was destroyed. So I holed myself up in my own little world and became "cordial mom". You know who I am. I'm the one who will do what you need me to do if it makes things better for the kids, I spend the whole time interacting with the kids...and then I go home.
It's not that I'm being rude; I just don't have time for anything else. I don't have time for girl chat at the playground because I'm too busy driving to stuff since no one car pools anymore. I don't have time to stay and help clean up after the assembly because I have to be home for my kindergartener to get off the bus because there are no block parents anymore. I won't be coming to your moms club meetings because I'm too tired of chasing my kids around making sure they don't do anything "wrong" and I have better things to do than judge the parenting of every other mom who's not there.
But more importantly, I'm really busy with reconstruction right now...
I've decided to rebuild The Village. I've taken a stand for the sisterhood...
So if your kid falls off his chair, and your hands are full...I'll help him up, sister.
If your baby drops his bottle and your on the phone and don't notice...oops! I'll get that for you sister.
If you need someone to sit by the pool and watch your child while you go change another one's blow-out diaper...take your time! I'm not going anywhere sister!
I'm here to offer a hand when you're struggling, suggestions without judgment when you ask and support when you need it. 'Cuz that's how sisters roll in My "Village".
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