Madison Mamas: A Great Local Resource for Parents

Are you a mom or dad looking for support in the Madison, Wisconsin area?

Madison Mammas is a great local resource for parents – bringing you information on groups, classes, activities and more.

A place for modern families with young children in the Madison, Wisconsin area, Madison Mamas was created by Rachel Barnes, “the mother of two and wife of one who lives in the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin. Madison Mamas is a resource of links dedicated to modern families, focusing on pregnancy, support groups, classes, activities, fitness, services, dining and shopping.”

By the way, don’t let the name Madison Mamas fool you. You’ll find support for the whole family here in a well organized, easy to use format.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

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When Children Attack!

Originally, this post was going to be all about our kids and how they can hijack our brains – almost effortlessly – with ear-shattering cries, stubbornness, defiance, bickering and a general lack of concern for being on time for school.

Then I started thinking about how cute my kids are, and how much I miss them all day when we’re apart.

The gifts my children give me every day far outweigh the pain (and occasional damage) they cause my brain when they’re acting out.

From Dad’s Point of View
The problem is, I often get caught up in my own stress and exhaustion, which makes it easy to get bent when they’re a little late for school or when they’re arguing with each other. But is it really that big a deal? I think not. 

From My Kids’ Point of View
Compared to us, our kids seem to have it easy – right? But they struggle just like we do. And their struggles are just as serious to them as ours are to us – making it super-important for us to respect what our kids are experiencing instead of brushing their problems off as “kid stuff” (does anyone else do this, or is it just me?).

Plus, my kids are Power Rangers, so they’ve got to deal with Zed, Rita and terribly written dialogue. As they run through the house, deftly escaping the bad guy (usually me), I often realize that these precious moments will not last forever. Isn’t it best to enjoy them while we can?

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs
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How Many Drug Stores Do We Need? Medicating vs. Solving Problems

Every time I turn around there’s another CVS or Walgreens cropping up, which leads me the question: how many drug stores do we need ?

As a society, we are encouraged to put band-aids on things instead of determining the root cause and solving our problems.

Depressed? Take a pill.

Overweight? Take a pill.

Diabetes? Take a pill – or take a shot.

Stressed? Take a drink, smoke a joint or a cigarette – or take a nap (oh wait, naps are actually a good idea).

If a child has problems focusing, immediately label him with attention defect disorder and give ‘em drugs. The result? These children get started early thinking there’s something wrong with them, and that it can only be solved with a pill.

Medicate, medicate, medicate. Heck, millions of people are medicating themselves into mediocrity.

If all we do is medicate our problems,
how can we expect to solve them?

Instead of a CVS, how about a healthy food market that’s free of products with trans fats and bleached ingredients? The reason why many people are sick – to a large degree – is because of the food they eat. Look at how cancer, diabetes and autism have become so prevalent since the 1950′s. This is when processed food became popular (or should I say became forced upon us). If you ask me, Crisco and every product like it is the reason why many people are sick.

Why am I picking on poor old Crisco? Because it’s made of hydrogenated oils and mono- and diglycerides (trans fats), which have been linked to illness, allergies and arthritis . Instead of taking a pill to treat the illness, why not change our food habits and avoid it all together?

Just because there’s a drug store on every corner doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for what ails us. Sometimes things appear normal (or healthy) because they’re everywhere. Remember when asbestos was used as insulation in homes? That was considered normal – until someone found out it was deadly, and we stopped using it.

If all we do is dull the pain, how will we heal the wound ? I have Crohn’s disease. There was a time when it almost killed me. After I was diagnosed, I was told I would be on pills for the rest of my life (16+ per day, along with an occasional run of steroids).

I had a decision to make. Stay on drugs, or look inside and determine why I got sick in the first place. I was interested in healing — not a band-aid. I began meditating, and started going for acupuncture and massage. I quit my job — which was literally killing me. I also started pursuing what I loved in life, instead of making a paycheck. I’m happy to say that today I am drug free.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to brag, and I don’t have super powers. I just woke up. I realized that I needed to change who I was, what I was doing with my life, and the food I was eating — if I wanted to lead a healthier, happier life. That being said, I understand that there are times when meds are necessary, even life saving. But the preponderance to medicate first and ask questions later (if at all) is a big problem.

You might be wondering: how is this connected to parenting and our kids? Doesn’t this guy write a dad blog?

Every parent wants to be healthy, and be around for their kids — as well as their grandkids. That’s obvious. We also need to consider something else: what our kids see us do will be perceived as “normal.” If they see us medicating our problems instead of solving them, or staying in a job we hate instead of fighting for our happiness, they could easily figure that’s the right way to live.

We need to show our kids that they don’t need to follow the way of the masses. They have the ability — and the right — to simply be themselves.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs
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The Hidden Secret Ingredient to a Great Marriage, by Jason Kotecki

I found a great article on marriage that I’d like to share with you. It was written by my fellow speaker and friend, Jason Kotecki, who is the co-creator Escape Adulthood, along with his wife Kim. They have a fantastic program that helps cure people of  “adultitis.”

Here’s the link to the article: The Hidden Secret Ingredient to a Great Marriage.

I hope you enjoy it!

And remember, you are not alone …

Peace Begins at Home: 6 Tips for Siblings

In our home there seems to be a constant struggle to have our boys play together peacefully and respectfully. Although our younger son (4) shares very well, his older brother (7) has a hard time with it. There’s also a constant battle for control between them. The result? Stress for everybody.

The following article by Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D., sheds some light on how to help our children’s interactions be more peaceful and pleasant. I’m grateful she’s allowed me to repost it here …

“Haven’t we evolved and learned war is not an answer?”

The state of the world has been on the mind of so many of the families I work with. Too many wars, too much aggression, too much not caring about each other and the planet. It’s created an underlying anxiety even for the youngest kids who are exposed to the news in their living rooms. One tense teen asked, “Haven’t we evolved and learned war is not an answer?” In his mind, it’s hard to fight someone who doesn’t want to fight you back, so if everyone would decide not to fight, war could end.

Although we may not be able to do anything about what’s happening across the globe, surely we can do something about what’s right in front of us. Peace can begin at home – starting with brothers and sisters.

Like nine-year-old Lars. All he wanted from his big brother was peace. He hated arguing over video games and TV, and was hurt and angry at the older one’s constant teasing. Or six-year-old Taylor’s jealousy of her three-year-old brother. Although she longed for a sibling, it was different once Riley was born. Taylor flip-flopped between loving hugs and dangerous squeezing.

Kids tell me they want positive interactions with their siblings. But buttons get pushed, defenses go up, and friction abounds. We all play a crucial role. Cooperation, empathy, kindness, fair play, and self-control don’t always come naturally to children; they are skills taught through practice, just like making a bed and riding a bike.

If you want to encourage kindness and generosity, let kids see yours. To foster self-control, watch how you respond to frustration and anger. Each conflict is a learning opportunity and a child’s imagination makes a great study partner. Even ten-year-old Melody, who couldn’t speak up to her big bossy sister, conjured up an imaginary Wizard who coached her to say “No” in a strong and clear voice.

Consider these 6 tips to squelch sibling squabbles and develop more loving connections:

(1) Don’t Underestimate Stress:
When pressure is high, patience for little annoying behaviors fall. Teach your children to use the 0 to 10 Scale for stress check-ups (0 = no stress; 10 = the most stress). Then, use Balloon Breathing (slow deep breathing about two to three inches below the navel) to calm and re-center, lower reactivity, and raise tolerance.

(2) Find Out What’s Under the Big Bad Feelings:
Start by accepting and validating whatever your child is feeling about his sibling. Then gently guide him to the core issue. Listen to whatever he offers for angry or hateful feelings, then advise, “Close your eyes, and be surprised at what’s under your anger (jealousy, betrayal…).” Taylor found sadness under her hate for her new baby brother – she was sad because she missed the attention and time with her mom that she used to have. When your child faces the emotions under his distress, you can help him make a plan to release them and make peace with his sis or bro. Taylor’s mom invited her to help with the new baby – Taylor got to spend time with mom and feel proud of helping out.

(3) Use Animal and Wizard Wisdom in a Pinch:
Suggest calling in a wise imaginary Animal Friend or Wizard for advice for any sibling disputes. Taylor’s Blue Bird flew in and recommended instead of pinching her brother or pulling his hair, she pinch and pull her pillow. And Mr. Magic offered her the gift of a magic eraser – it erased her bad thoughts about her brother.

(4) Have Feelings Talk to Each Other:
Your child probably has a range of emotions about his siblings, some of which are as distinct as love/hate or happy/mad. Having his feelings “speak” to each other can result in a creative compromise. Once they get the hang of it, kids can practice together or role play, as the Anger of one negotiates with the Sadness of the other, helping them understand each other even more.*

(5) Give the Marble Jar a Chance:
This usually works like a charm. To encourage your kids getting along, let them know you appreciate and want to acknowledge their efforts at being kind to each other. Then take a jar, and every time you “catch” them being “neutral or nice,” drop a marble (or pasta piece or colored glass bead) in the jar. In the beginning, lots of reinforcement is important to encourage their positive behavior. When the jar is filled up (about a month) offer some terrific fun time. And along the way, say each quarter up (about a week) reward them with something simple but enticing (picking the videos you rent, special ice-cream, whatever you decide together).

(6) Unique, Not Equal:
It’s okay to treat your kids differently. They are different – likely different ages and certainly different personalities and needs. Talk to your children about how and why you make your choices. Listen to any hurt feelings, and let them know what you can change, what you can’t, and why. At the same time, try to avoid favoritism and comparison. Celebrate each child’s uniqueness, and encourage cooperation, not competition.

Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D. is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA and bestselling author. In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children’s imagination.

You can visit Charlotte’s Web site at: www.ImageryForKids.com. You can also check out her book, The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success, at Amazon.

Collective Bargaining for Dads

Over the past few weeks, teachers and parents across America have banded together to keep collective bargaining alive so that teachers have a voice in their own future.

But what about dads?

Did you know that in Wisconsin there was a bill called the Equal Placement Draft that was proposed during this same time period? The bill proposed that dads who were willing and able to take care of their children 50% of the time should be able to do so. Overshadowed by the the issue over teachers’ collective bargaining rights, also an important issue, the bill got lost in the shuffle and was not passed.

How did we arrive here? How is it that our government does NOT find it overwhelmingly just and fair that a dad who is WILLING AND ABLE to take care of his kids should be allowed to do so?

Yet thousands of dads are sitting home right now without their children. I can assure you that some of them are in tears over it. These dads work hard, and they deserve to be an equal parent to their kids – yet they are not allowed to do so.

Who wins? Not the kids. Not their dads. I’m sure that there are moms who are happy to have their kids around most of the time. That’s only natural. But is this arrangement benefiting the child when dad is a man of integrity that mom just doesn’t get along with anymore?

Our schools and our communities aren’t winners when they have to deal with children that have behavior problems because there is no male role model to guide them.

Taking a long term view, who wins?

It looks to me like the courts are the only winners, because it’s far more simple to give dads 4 days a month to see their kids (just over 10% visitation) and 100% of the child support than it is to give a couple who are disgruntled with each other a settlement that is fair to the CHILD. It’s a classic case of dad being treated like a second-class parent, and it is shameful.

When a marriage does not work out, that doesn’t mean that bitterness and negative feelings should overtake a parent’s responsibility to put their child’s welfare at the top of their list of important things. This is true whether the parent is a man or a woman. Yet the courts have conditioned the process to strip dads and children of their rights.

There was an amazing response by teachers and parents, alike, when it was proposed that collective bargaining be taken away. But here’s my question:

Where were the dads and dad advocates?

Why was downtown Madison, WI, devoid of people shouting for dads’ rights? Are divorced dads so defeated that they believe they don’t deserve to be heard?

And remember, you are not alone …