Inspiration From Dory and Nemo To Teach Us About Parenting

At first glance, it appeared that Finding Dory was just another fun movie about fish on an adventure. However, later as I thought more about the movie I realized it actually illustrated some interesting parenting issues. As I discuss this, some spoilers might slip out, so take note if you haven’t seen the movie.

In this latest adventure, Dory is still friends with Nemo and his dad Marlin. Early in the movie she realizes that she really wants to find her parents who she long-ago got separated from. You may remember from the first movie that Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. So most of the movie involves Dory trying to find her long-lost parents with the help of Nemo and Marlin. During the process, there are numerous flash-back scenes to the story of how Dory came to be friends with Nemo and Marlin.

Here’s where it gets interesting from a parenting perspective–Dory and Nemo, as you may remember, both have physical challenges. Nemo has one fin that is smaller than the other, while Dory has short-term memory loss. What we see throughout the movie is how each of their parents handle their challenges in very different ways.

We learn from the flashbacks that Dory’s parents realized her challenges with memory at a young age. They talked to her about her memory loss and explained with much repetition (as necessary with memory loss) and were very patient with her.

Nemo’s dad Marlin handled his son’s physical challenge in a very different way. In the movie he tends to be very overprotective and wanting to limit Nemo’s activities and not let him go far from home.

What struck me about these two different fish families is that we can easily see ourselves in each of these scenarios. Regardless of whether our children have any apparent challenges or disabilities, we all at times have probably taken on the role of Dory’s parents or Nemo’s dad.

What is even more revealing is how each of the “children” (Nemo and Dory) respond to the different parenting strategies. With the guidance of her very patient parents, Dory is able to learn to explore on her own and develops ways to find her way back home. Her parents give her tools and strategies like songs and sea shell trails to help her do things independently. They know they might not always physically be with her, but their voice becomes the mantra in her head to guide her home. Instead of limiting her, they give her the skills she needs to be brave and explore.

Nemo, on the other hand, has a very different response from Marlin’s overprotective nature. He rebels. He feels that his dad is limiting him and his exploration. He knows he has a physical challenge but he doesn’t want it to limit his abilities. Instead of listening to his dad, he simply rebels to the point of taking dangerous risks (e.g., touching a boat and getting captured). In other words, his dad’s over-protection stifles him.

What can we learn about our own parenting from these two scenarios? Although it is just a movie, I think it portrays somewhat realistic situations. Being the child development geek that I am, I always return to the research. Is there research that can inform us about these two different parenting strategies?

Dory’s parents took what I would call an authoritative parenting approach. Authoritative parents provide age-appropriate limits and guidelines but are not overly intrusive. They offer a balance of both responsiveness and control. Research dating back to the 1960’s consistently shows that this approach (which is easier said than done) is most likely to give children the best chance at being psychologically well-adjusted. One of the most compelling aspects of this approach is that parents change as the child develops. They gradually give the child more autonomy and allow appropriate risk-taking as the child meets growing challenges and decisions. This is what gives children, like Dory, confidence. A real, lasting confidence that cannot be easily shaken.

Nemo’s dad, in contrast, is what I would call a helicopter parent. Of course, given his history of trauma, it’s not surprising that he took this approach. We know from research looking at recent generations of young adults, that this helicopter approach does not really serve our kids well. If they don’t rebel, like Nemo, then they often reach college-age lacking the resourcefulness and grit to face tough decisions and challenges. As child psychologists describe it, the parents have become a “crutch” for the child.

There is a neurological basis for this too. When young children face challenges on their own, their brain actually becomes more complex and more neural connections form. One researcher describes it this way,

“As children explore their environment by themselves-making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration-their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated. Dendrites sprout. Synapses form. If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems “literally shrink.”

In reality, we’ve all had times when we were more like Marlin with our kids and other times when we took the approach of Dory’s parents. It is good, however, to be aware of these different approaches and the impact they may have on our children’s development.

Just keep swimming…

All About Parents Pride

You may have heard that your children are your pride and joy. Isn’t that interesting that pride is placed in front of joy? The arrival of a child will change the focus of a family. Love blooms as we welcome and accommodate the wee addition, and responsibility will accrue as the baby’s needs grow. As parents understand the dynamics of their growing child, they naturally begin to plan that child’s future. Is that all that happens? Or, do the parents also plan their unrealized dreams for that child to accomplish?

I read an article recently by Dr. James Dobson, in which he illustrated the journey of children from babies to young adulthood as the flight pattern of released helium-filled balloons. The balloons were all about the same size, generally had the same amount of helium, and they were all released at the same time. The only difference at the release was that the balloons were colored differently in order to symbolize the social, physical, and mental differences of children. Even though the balloons rode the same air current, some did not clear the branches of trees before they popped. Others spread out to reach an average height before they disappeared from view. A few soared to the horizon.

Loving parents should be keenly aware of their child’s developing social, mental, and physical skills, and of their own pride. Your children are your legacy, but they are mostly your responsibility. It may well be that your child will never soar to the height of your expectations. Perhaps his or her height of achievement is like that of the balloon that plods three feet over the ground to snag in a bush. Such a child may wound your pride, make you shun the other parents who brag about their child getting all A’s in school, becoming the head cheerleader, or the class president. You know that the world would be a silly place if every child in it was titled “The Class President.”

Perhaps it would be better to move joy in front of pride in order to create a special bond of love with each of your children. Don’t lord over the accomplishments of the one who soared without balancing your praise for the one who drifts. With your encouragement, the drifter might drift elegantly. Your children do indeed reflect upon you. They may not soar, but if they reflect your boundless love for them, take pride in that.

Why Parents Must Exercise Patience

“Patience is BITTER, but it’s fruit is SWEET” – Aristotle. Parenting requires you to persevere and have patience which is kind of bitter to do a SUCCESSFUL PARENTING JOB which will be sweetest at the end. Going through child rearing duties and responsibilities right from childbirth and training them through each development stage could be so hectic that most parent lose their patience and perseverance which are very necessary. As a parent, when you lose yours, your child looses his or hers too… then it becomes a war in this parenting field. This article lay more emphasis on these questions such as; What is Patience? What is Perseverance? In what ways do parent make this mistake often? How do we exercise and also help how to children to exercise them too?

What is PATIENCE?

Patience is the capacity or ability to endure something tedious such as provocation, annoyance, pains and misfortunes without complaint but with calm and strength.

What is PERSEVERANCE?

Perseverance is that quality of continuing in something even if it is difficult. It is having this tenacious mindset of not giving up. Looking at this definition, I feel both words are interwoven a bit. But they are not the same, yet very much alike. . . especially when it comes to parenting.

As a parent, try to remember when you were pregnant with your baby. You and your partner waited patiently for the appointed time. You waited patiently for the fetus to form in the womb, you waited and allowed the baby to grow properly in the womb, you also waited patiently for the expected day of delivery. Why do you preserved, endured and waited with such patience? Because you don’t want to have a premature or mal-adjusted baby. Right? But after delivery, the sweetness of our patients and perseverance do feel our heart that we never thought and even choose to forget how many months or years we’ve waited. This I’d say is the first stage we all do PASS when it comes to patience and perseverance in parenting.

As a parent, do you exercise patience and persevere as your child totters towards maturity?

Dear parent, to be successful in this parenting job you are in, PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE must be CONSIDERED. So, adding more effort to the kind of patience and perseverance we have earlier when we are trying to have the baby must be pursued. As our child totters towards maturity there are lots of duties of child-rearing but am sure most parents can relate to some such as; Learning to walk, toilet training, trying that first set of shoes, learning to read or home schooling and much more, exercising patience and perseverance will take you through all this.

In what ways do parents make this mistake often?

How do we exercise and also help our children to exercise them too?

Truly child training must begin early but being careful is ideal… most parent are known to hurry and get so impatient with their child ‘s development emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually and socially. Most children, whose parent didn’t exercise patience in their up bringing may seem to cope but somewhere, somehow, they will suffer some serious setbacks.

PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL: Patience and perseverance in children’s physical, emotional, intellectual and social growth must also be considered as they develop. As a parent you must carefully study your kid to know what approach is best, cherish them, teach and correct them along these lines of development, your teaching and training must be relevant to their age and developmental stage. There are parents who are known to rush teachings and disciplines on their children so they can act mature and well discipline quickly using means such as scolding, spanking and other kind of punishment all in the name of discipline. Inserting teachings, instructions and disciplines into children takes time, they may adapt to some quickly but because of their fallible and naïve nature you will find them making the same mistake over and over, after repeated corrections, this could be so frustrating but here is where patience and perseverance is needed… this will make you an ideal teacher, they may learn from you, learn on their own or from people around them, just humble yourself, love and honor them because they human too, don’t seek to control them and try not to lose it!

They are also parents who are known to rush their children through schools(even cutting corners sometimes) so they can get to higher institutions quickly, “this often has negative consequences” says an expert educationist. Proof of this lies in the disturbing number of underage undergraduates in tertiary institutions who continue to fall prey to all kinds of evil influences and frustrating challenges because they are neither mentally nor emotionally mature enough to deal with experiences they are being expose to.

SPIRITUAL: Patience and perseverance is also necessary in the spiritual development of children. On this aspect, parents shouldn’t attempt to intimidate or force them into religion, because it will not last. Instead, teach your child to gradually  build relationship with God, not forcefully imposed. Some children do feel excessively pressurised and over sermon by their parents may even choose to dare their impatient parents by doing exactly what will annoy them and some will only pretend to follow what you want them to be. So as a parent you should patiently guide and teach your child to his or her own personal commitment to God, praying ceaselessly for them (God’s intervention) will help a lot!

Tips To Keeping Children Safe When Driving

Every parent loves their kid, and keeping their child safe falls under number one priority. What this mean reflects on the location and child’s personality. When a child sits in the car the safety measures will differ from when he is at home playing in the backyard. They say boys are daredevils and girls act prissy so keeping either one of them safe can be a challenge or can be a simple maneuver or coordination. Whatever the situation, keeping children safe when driving consist of following state laws of restraints and precautions.

When going from point “A” to point “B” with a child in a car the law requires that the minor 14 or under be in the back seat. Infant and toddlers, as per the law should be in a child’s car seat or a booster seat respectively. The infant’s car seat should be position where the back faces the passenger front seat, resulting in the infant facing the back seat cushion. Children six years or older use the booster seat and are secured by the car’s back seat belt. The restraint of the child in the car seat or the back seat has specifics layout to minimize injury should there be an accident.

Parents, when they follow these guidelines, drive around confident in the knowledge that their children are secured so that when an accident occurred the harm to them might be none or minimal. Parents who are not secure in this knowledge often reach out to community centers and designated stations to help them properly install the car seat. With the establishment of social media parents can also get information on the best way to buckle up their children via You Tube, Pinterest and yes even Twitter.

With so many resources available to families there are some parents who choice not to buckle up their children. Several times a year there are broadcasts on the importance of securing children when they are passengers in any vehicle. There are various videos on YouTube that show, with the use of dummies, what happens to children when the appropriate precautions are not in place. These simulated videos are very alarming. When you see the dummies fly from the back of the car to the front, or when the dummies in front of the car slams against the dashboard you cannot help but wonder why some parents do not buckle up their children.

Things to Do With Kids While Babysitting

It is quite a task to come up with a never ending list of things to keeping the kids entertained while babysitting. Games can be educative and fun together, though it does require some planning. Keeping them entertained can make a lot of difference between happy kids who enjoy their time with you versus those kids that get totally out of control.

Here are tips on some top activities that can keep kids entertained for a few hours.

Have a little tea party. Try out recipes that are no-bake like instant pudding. Children can help mix the ingredients, stir and add toppings, or help chop fruit and decorate. Let them help by stirring their own drinks or making their own sandwiches. Or even an indoor ‘picnic’ on a blanket in the middle of the floor in the house.

Pop some corn watch a movie together. Give out make believe tickets and collect them at the door and let the movie begin. . . Or even put up a play. Impromptu script can be made up as one goes along.

All kids love arts and crafts. It is a sure shot way to keep them occupied and entertained for hours. Make sure that you cover the floor and table with paper. For younger children finger painting is a big hit. Children love to be creative and you will be surprised as to what can be created. Older children can make cards, bookmarks and bead a necklace or bracelet. A face painting kit will have the kids laughing at each other. Show them how to make a “I’m thankful for” jar with slips of paper writing things they’re thankful for.

Do a puzzle together. This keep kids busy for a while and their energy at a controllable level – which makes it a great activity especially before bedtime. Board game, like snakes and ladders, some easy games with counting also provides edutainment.

Read stories as often as possible. Find a good book or ask the kids what they want you to read to them. Encourage the child to ask about any words that cannot be understood. It helps build up their vocabulary skills. If you enjoy story-telling, use different voices and add drama to the literature. The kids can even add their own voices or characters to new stories and read or present it to you.

Write a story too. This is a great way of improving grammar, spelling and writing skills besides fostering an active imagination.

Walk into their fantasy land, of good guys and bad guys, dressing up and other make-believe play. It enhances an important aspect of childhood and a great way for you and kid(s) to have a lot of laughs together. Just pretend that you are on an adventure!

Make a tent or camp indoors. Use chairs and blankets. Fill up with pillows and blankets and let the children have a great time inside their little tents.

Play fun games, indoors and outdoors. They do not require any preparation. Like an indoor basketball game that need just a bucket and a rolled up sock. Or musical cushions — like musical chairs, but using cushions spread out on the living room floor. Board games are another favourite with a lot of kids.

Plan activities that will entertain and educate the children. Submit an activity list to the parents to choose from. Check with the parents if they approve of the activities you have planned and ask them to assist with the supplies needed. It makes your job easier and active children are always happier and better behaved.

Helpful Tips To Raising Our Children With Love and Respect

“Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.” Pam Leo

That quote really got my mind working this morning. I took a moment and reflected on my own childhood and it really is true. I was raised by my grandparents and I understand that their ways were the “old school” ways but to this day I still have a lot of emotional issues based on the methods of discipline and lack of approval I received as a child. I still have a lot of baggage that I have carried since childhood but over the years I’ve been getting a lot better about letting it go and not allowing my past to dictate what happens in my future. A couple of things DO still bother me to this day and as nervous as I am about it for the sake of knowledge and information that may help other children I wanted to share them with you:

– My grandfather always commented on my weight and put me down because I wasn’t a thin girl and I have always been self-conscious about my weight and my looks, no matter how many times my husband tells me I’m beautiful I’m always secretly rolling my eyes, wishing I could believe it for myself.

– I was punished as a child by spanking. There was a leather strap that laid on a table in the dining room and my brothers and I always had to walk by it. Every time we got in trouble the strap was picked up and we went to our rooms, crying and sore. That made me grow up with quite a temper and lifelong resentment to authority that I always have to work hard to control. I thank my daughter every day for being here because she helps me to see the world so differently.

I grew up constantly questioning myself and my abilities and I never feel I have the confidence to do everything I have dreamed of doing, mainly because growing up I was never told that I had the ability to do anything I wanted if I wanted it bad enough. It took me years of self-discovery, books and the support of my amazing and caring husband to convince myself that I AM worth the risk because I want my life to be full of wonderful moments, memories and I don’t want to leave this earth with a laundry list of regrets.

Because I was raised that way I swore to myself that I would never treat my child like that and I would raise her the opposite way. I will not use fear to get her obedience and I will not put my child down because I don’t see perfection. My daughter just turned three and I love that when she is having a tantrum and pushing my buttons the situation always ends with a hug and a moment of peace than a scared confused child who doesn’t understand why mommy was so cruel to her.

It breaks my heart that every day there are so many children who are growing up with families that will set these kids up for a future of uncertainty and self-esteem issues, mainly due to the fact that parents aren’t armed with the proper information that could help them to guide children through their youth, instead of controlling their decisions, using unnecessary punishments to get their points across, yelling more than talking and not providing the protection from certain situations that could make or break a child’s self-esteem. So many young spirits are broken and that pain will haunt them and affect the decisions they make for the rest of their lives. The worst part is that all of this can be prevented with a little knowledge, support and a better understanding from the child’s perspective.

I know there are a lot of parents who say that they were spanked as children and they grew up better because of that form of discipline. Everyone is different and everyone raises their children differently. I’m not trying to start a debate about spanking, I just wanted to write about my view on the subject because I went through it and that was how spanking affected me. In the end I just want every parent to know that their children are beautiful, special and full of so much potential. Love them with all your hearts and do everything in your power to give them the best start in their lives. Every parent has their own ways of doing this and in the end if you know in your hearts that you’re doing everything you can possibly do to ensure the best future for your children, then that is MORE than enough.

We are all born with a blank canvas and it’s up to the parents to paint the proper background so that the children can then complete the picture and grow up to become confident, empathic, responsible and grateful adults who will make a difference in this world. If we fail to put maximum effort into our children and to go the extra mile to do the right things for them instead of the more convenient “this will put an end to this for now” mindset, everyone wins and the family is much more secure and trustworthy of one another and that, in my opinion makes for the perfect future for everyone.

Do you have baggage from your childhood and has that affected your parenting for the better? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Your input may help other parents looking for advice or information.