Fishing For Life Lessons

It was a simple fishing expedition that taught us so much more.

My family of four set out with fishing poles, a bag of bait, and low expectations in Falmouth. We were going to spend some quality outdoor time together with the beauty of Cape Cod as our backdrop. But the truth was we didn’t know what we were doing and it showed. The hook got stuck, the line tangled, and the bait stunk!

It was then I spotted a happy gentleman humming to himself while he set his line. I thought he looked pretty confident and maybe he had some tips he would share. It turned out he was a local musician who was on vacation. Dave Macklin was his name and he had his own band. I told him we were failing in the fishing department and wondered if he might have some insights to share. He laughed and said he had been watching us flounder (no pun intended.)

Dave told me about the fish he had caught, the gigs he had played, and about raising his sons with his wife/ manager. He shared his hooks and his bait-sea worms were the way to go he said. Yuck-gross worms that can bite. But they worked for him. He had caught a 34 inch sea bass, King fish, and flukes. Dave said he ate most of the fish he caught after saying a little prayer.

As I introduced my children and asked them to thank him for his fishing wisdom, he gave me more than I could have asked for. Dave said it was his pleasure because sharing knowledge was the best thing he could offer. He looked them in the eyes and told them to remember to share what they learn with others. “Knowledge is meant to be shared. If you are really good at something, show someone else how. By sharing, you help others grow and your heart will get a little bigger.” He asked them to give away information freely, the way he had.

I couldn’t help but smile because meeting him was a bit magical. He was kind and had this wise face that made you want to listen. So thank you Dave, you made my vacation a bit more special. You taught my kids a simple,yet important life lesson. And I promise to do the same for someone else.

We caught a fish the very next day. And we hope to see the Dave Macklin Band sometime soon!

Characteristics and Our Children

Today I went to a conference about Perinatal Health.  I sat and listened to a variety of speakers who work with parents in various capacities.  They had amazing Bio’s and insights to share.  During one session, the topic covered was the transition to Motherhood.

One of the questions that was posted to consider with families was:

“List qualities or attributes you want to develop in your child.  Why are these important to you?  What will you do to foster them?”

Huh, I started to thinking about the answers to these questions as they relate to my own family, I thought of a few others.  As I identify the qualities I want my children to have, do I possess these qualities myself?  And if I don’t, does that make it harder to foster them with my son and daughter?

Here was the list that popped into my head without too much thought:

Kindness.  The definition of kind is “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person.”  This is crucial for Emotional Intelligence.  It allows people to think beyond themselves.  To be a part of a family and community lays the foundation for kindness.  Sharing a toy with a sibling demonstrates kindness on a basic level.

Resilience.  The definition of resilient is “recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.”  When you fall down, take a moment to compose yourself, and get back up again.  Don’t we demonstrate resiliency on a daily basis?  Recognizing that everyone faces adversity in many different ways is important.  Learning to overcome it is imperative.

Smart.  The definition is “having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability.”  This definition is different for everyone.  There are book smarts, street smarts, and emotional intelligence, for example.  When I think about my children being smart, I want them to be lifelong learners.

As I sit and write, I look at myself, which I think is a crucial part of parenting.  I believe I do possess these attributes.  I think these characteristics will help them navigate their world in a meaningful way.

Have you ever thought about the question “List qualities or attributes you want to develop in your child.  Why are these important to you?  What will you do to foster them?”  If you answer them does it give your parenting experience more meaning?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Newborn Weight Tool for breastfed babies

For those of you who struggled with breastfeeding and a newborn who lost weight initially, check this out.  There is a new tool called NEWT.  Deciding when a newborn has lost too much weight immediately after birth is always a tricky topic.  This tool is designed to help determine when supplementation is medically necessary.

I whole heartedly agree with supplementation when it is medically necessary. However, I find that it often is used before that is the case. (I have heard the phrase “Nurse your baby and then give all the formula he will take” for many years. It pains me each and every time I hear it.) This message is not easily erased when a new mother is working so hard to nourish her new baby.  Most new babies lose weight following delivery and get nourished with colostrum.  In most cases, when a mother’s breastmilk comes in around days 3-5, the losing trend is reversed. 

“Our hope for these babies would be that their mothers get good lactation support to improve breastfeeding,” Paul said.  And that is where I come in!  I LOVE being able to support new families reach their breastfeeding goals.  Information delivered in the right way is so much more powerful than formula.  Let’s help these dyads get it right!
For more information refer to this article.

Parenting-Judging ourselves through the lens of someone else.

What does your child say about you?  Judging ourselves through the lens of someone else, someone who knows our children, is part of parenting.  And it is not one of the best parts.

When your child has a tantrum at the market do you worry what others will think?  When you hear that your child misbehaved in school does it make your heart sink a little bit?  Do you internalize it instead of realizing that kids make mistakes?    I do, but I am trying to change that.  In my mind, my children are a direct reflection of how I am doing as a parent.

With the massive job of raising children, we are forced to acknowledge that we are judged by others based on the actions of our kids.  Ugh!  We expect children to make mistakes.  In fact, it is often the mistakes in life that cause us to learn the most.  But do we give ourselves time to make parenting mistakes and learn from them?  I think we are often too quick to say “I screwed up.”  But we are all human.

The truth is that the baby did not arrive with a set of instructions.  You can read books and articles.  You can get at apps on your phone.  You can talk to friends and family to get guidance, but each child is different.  The rules change to fit each child and each family, they have to.  As a result, we learn from every action.  We have the ability to look at the life lesson embedded in the experience.  But to be able to do this, you must be able to slow down and allow yourself to make mistakes too.

T.Berry Brazelton, one of my favorite pediatricians, once told me that one of there are unspoken reasons parents bring their children to the doctor.  One of those reasons is to hear that they are doing a good job.  And based on my own experiences, I know he is right.  Who is going to stop and tell you that you are doing great?  Much like our children, we need a little positive reinforcement to get the job done.  I try to do this as much as I can.

Today I challenge you to allow yourself to make parenting mistakes and learn from them.  If you yelled a bit too much this holiday weekend, don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself.  The second part of my challenge is to help someone else forgive themselves.  When you see a friend, identify one thing they do as a parent that you find remarkable and tell them.  And if you keep doing that, maybe we will all stop the blaming/shaming cycle of parenting and support each other when we need it most.

“Dwelling on past bad decisions you’ve made only allows those decisions to keep defining you.  Forgive yourself and move on.”  Mandy Hale

Good Manners

I am a drill sergeant when it comes to good manners.  As a result, I have been told on many occasions that my children are very polite.  I always breathe a sigh of relief when I hear this.

The question is why is this important to me?  With all of the demands we place on children-homework that starts in kindergarten, multiple sporting events, dance, etc. why do I add one more thing to “the list.”  It is critical to children grasping the concept that rules govern our society.  In my mind saying please and thank you is just as important as stopping at a red light.

I try my best to model good manners.  I compliment children who use good manners whenever possible to reinforce the importance of these skills. I think this helps every generation adopt a model of graciousness and kindness.

So on the eve of Thanksgiving, compliment the little people in your life for any sign of good manners.  The positive reinforcement will be worth the effort!

For more suggestions from Mary Beth Sammons check out this article.