Can you think back on your own childhood and come up with some crazy sibling-fight stories? I've heard some doozies, people being hung out windows or tied to trees by their siblings, the time a brother put green dye in a sister's hair – so the sister retaliated by pouring glitter into the brother's bed! Today, we talk about the ups and downs of brothers and sisters, both in our families growing up and in our homes as parents.
Siblings can hurt each other in lots of big and small ways; sometimes it feels like there's no good intervention. Today, I share about a book that I first read while pregnant with my second: Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book is the second of The Fabulous Five, five books which will transform your relationship with your children, so get reading them ASAP (here's the blog post detailing the Fab Five)! It made the list because, quite simply, if you have more than one child – or if you grew up in a family where you had at least one sibling – you will finally understand how to help when siblings fight.
Your one take away from today: it is possible to alleviate sibling rivalry! You don't have to live with fighting, jealousy, the mean tricks that siblings play on each other… Siblings Without Rivalry will help you fix it.
Today's guest Daniel Wolff has, among many other things, produced a documentary about Hurricane Katrina, been nominated for a Grammy in 2003, and written 10 books on all different subjects including the one that we spend most of our time discussing today, How Lincoln Learned To Read. Written in 2009, this book is a go-to for me whenever I need to make big decisions about about the boys' upbringing; because Mr. Wolff tells the stories of the childhoods of many prominent Americans throughout history, I learn something different from each one. Plus, a great read that's fun, interesting, historical – and makes me feel a little smarter each time I pull it off the shelf.
During today's's show, listen for:
How Lincoln Learned To Read, a great read that has helped me be a better parent
Amazing poet-four-children-of-all-ages Shel Silverstein
Sometimes as parents, we think we are limiting the risks to our kids by taking an action – or backing away from an action – when instead, their well-being and happiness would be better insured by doing something completely different. In this episode, I highlight four common things parents do (I know this, because I did them too!) where it would be better to go in the exact opposite direction.
Whether you agree or disagree, I encourage you to really give some thought to the above Four Risks. Reasonable and intelligent adults can disagree, but the biggest risk of all that we can take is not giving consideration to any big issue that affects our children while they're young, because the effects of our choices compound when they are grown up.
Imagine parenting before the era of Google and social media, before there was 24/7 support – or at least entertainment in the form of middle-of-the-night lurking. Books are great, but difficult to hold while comforting a colicky baby at 3 AM. Now, imagine leaving your beloved home city of Montréal, Canada and relocating to a quiet suburb with nothing but houses in every direction. During the day, your husband takes the family car into work, so now you have a three-year-old and a three-month-old, no wheels, and a super expensive long-distance phone bill. A totally different world, right? My mother, Diane Lock, found herself in that situation (I was the three-year-old :-), jumped in with both feet – and thrived.
From that shaky start, my Mom went on not only to raise, along with my Dad, three children who turned out pretty well, in my completely unbiased opinion. She also has written books, started and run a catering service, and sung a solo for Pope John Paul II (we don't talk about this at all in this episode, but it is still pretty cool.)
This bonus episode is my chance to speak with a truly remarkable woman, my Mom. If you take just one thing away in listening today, let it be this: when our children are small, it is easy to forget that we are so much more than the arms that comfort them and clean up after them, the legs that walk them around in an endless, bouncing dance when they cry. In those times, let my mother be an example to you of how much more you are than mere arms and legs in service to your child. Remember the little grey cells between your ears – and smile.
When Michael O'Neal was growing up, his teachers repeatedly said that he: a) didn't live up to his potential, and b) talked too much. In our lively conversation today, these two ideas come up again and again, because Michael is doing much more than merely "living up to his potential," using his propensity to talk too much by helping people like me every day and making a great living at it too.
If you take only one thing away from this episode, let it be this: anxiety and enjoyment are two sides of the same coin. The more anxious you are, the less you are able to enjoy your life, and vice versa; this is especially important because anxious parents – as I was – pass on anxiety to their kids. We need to learn to limit our anxiety to heighten everybody's enjoyment.
Have you ever taken a look at your young child and wondered, how is this kid going to get along in the real world? The expectations we place on our kids, starting from when they are born, influence them all through their lives. In this episode, I take you into the future, linking what you do right now with your future child.
If you take one idea away from this episode, I hope it is this: from the very start, we parents have huge power over our children in the form of expectations… And we need to use that power for good.
If you (like me) have never had to worry about where your child's next diaper, of all things, is going to come from, I think you will be surprised to know how many people face this problem every day. Michelle Sharpe, a music and early childhood intervention therapist with a background in opera, is doing something about this need, through her charity diapercircle.org. Our conversation ranges from how Michelle got into the charity biz in the first place to practical stuff every parent needs to know. Take a listen, you'll be glad you did!