Dating and Relationship Advice

dating-and-relationship-advice-love-friends-choosing-partner-boyfriend-girlfriend-husband-wife

Inspired by some poor choices by several of my close friends, I’ve decided to start a list of dating advice I’d like to share with my daughter. Dating, you’d say? Anna is only 4! Well, it’s probably a bit early, but you have to start introducing and modeling these values to kids early so it becomes natural to them.

For the purposes of this post I will assume Anna will date guys, but she is free to choose her own love life and these points will be applicable to either sex, so just switch up the pronouns when necessary.

  1. What is love? Love is an emotion we feel when there is a strong attraction and/or personal attachment. As your relationship evolves, you will fall in and out of love/infatuation with one another. That’s why it is important to find a friend you enjoy spending time with. With a best friend as partner you will continually find traits of their character to love and respect.
  2. The friend test. Meet his friends. Their behavior will tell you a lot about the person you are dating. Be careful with a person who has no friends… Introduce him to your own friends and see how well he blends in. Ideally, you don’t want to make sacrifices and choose between your partner or friends.
  3. Meet his parents. The relationship he has with his own parents will tell you a lot about your future union. See how the parents interact with each other. We all learn behaviors from our parents and environment in which we grow up.
  4. Kids and animals. Test out your partner around animals and children. Babysit or petsit together with him. His attitude towards someone else’s babies will show you how they are likely to behave with their own kids and family.
  5. Observe behavior rather than listen to the words. Many people say great things about their intentions but never actiually act on them. You really need a partner who will walk the talk, someone you can trust.
  6. Benefit of the doubt. It is important to remember that no one is perfect. Not even you! It is silly to expect it from others and vice versa. If something doesn’t work out don’t rush to make judgements, start by asking your partner for their side of the story. Often enough our minds come to the scariest conslusions based on the limited information we have. Allowing someone to explain their actions may defeat your fears and save a healthy relationship. Of course, if you are not convinced by their story, you can seriously consider the benefits of staying in such relationship.
  7. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. Everyone will agree that relationships are a lot of work. However, if after putting in a lot of time and effort you are still not happy with the result, pull the plug! Take charge of your life and go find someone who will make you happy. Don’t waste your time being unhappy.
  8. “Must haves” list. It’s not what you’re thinking! Not the skin, hair or eye color; not the body type or clothing style; not thefinancial status, etc. It’s the list of things that matter to you the most. For me it was my partner’s stand on politics, religion, family, ethics, abuse, and understanding or at the very minimum interest towards my culture. These are the things that shape our life together and I would not compromise on.
  9. Ask the tough questions to check-off your “must have” list. And do it soon! Before your relationship becomes too involved ask everything that matters to you the most. Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself. Afterall, you have nothing to lose, you’ve only known him for a few dates…
  10. Build trust. Openly state to your wisely chosen partner that you trust him with your heart and ask him to protect it. In return promise to protect his heart from breaking. If two people care about each other there is no room for jealousy. If you feel jealous or threatened by your partner’s behavior, communicate it in a calm manner. He may not be aware he is causing you pain and allow him to correct his behavior. If it happens again or he is ignoring your feelings by trying to convince you that it’s all in your head… pull the plug! This relationship is not worth your time… It is impossible to trust someone who does not respect your feelings.
  11. Zero tolerance for any kind of abuse. There are many forms of abuse: physical, mental or substance, etc.; and in our family we don’t tolerate either. Be straight and open about it in the beginning before any signs show. Most likely, anyone not acting in good faith will disappear on their own. Or else, pull the plug! Life is too short to live in misery.dating-and-relationship-advice-love-friends
  12. Trust your gut. You have a beautiful gift of intuition. It will guide you through life and love, often very discretely. If you’re still unsure, ask opinions of your best friends and family who will always have the best intentions for you. Regardless of all our opinions, the decision is yours. We will support you no matter what, because we love you and we are your family!

This will be an ongoing list, but hope to have some solid advice for Anna when she grows up and begins to date. As parents we will not be able to protect her from kissing frogs; however, this list will set a good foundation for her to start making wise decisions on her own.

I value your opinions. Please share if you have anything to add to this list?

Cold Nights Pajama Trick

toddler cashmere sweater cold night pajamasAnna is yet to fall in love with blankets. Until then I am constantly challenged with keeping her warm at nights while keeping our energy bill low.

Ta-da! Introducing the cheapest warm pajamas or wearable blanket which you most likely already have in your closet. YOUR CASHMERE SWEATER! Or any warm sweater in your closet will work.

PROS:

  • Warm and snugly
  • Soft to touch
  • Wearable and not easy to take off
  • Adjustable sleeve length
  • Long to cover most of the tiny body
  • Belonged to Mommy

It will last you several seasons, while your child grows and hopefully falls in love with blankets. And most importantly, your toddler will be proud to wear it because it belonged to YOU!

I’d love to hear your tricks on keeping toddlers warm on cold nights.

The Witch stole my candy! How to control consumption of Halloween candy

Halloween Toddler Costume Bunny CandyHappy Halloween! It’s Anna’s third Halloween, but first time going “Trick-or-Treating”. We had a group of candy-hungry toddlers roaming the neighborhood. After visiting just a few houses the kids got the gist of it: we get candy just for saying “Trick-or-Treat”! Duh! Neighbors, secure your candy bowls!

As my child’s appetite for candy grew, I started thinking of how to tame the consumption of Halloween candy. I’ve asked around and received many strategies ranging from parents fully controlling the candy to allowing kids eat it all, with variations in between. Obviously, this year it’s not going to be such a big deal, however, establishing clear rules and realistic expectations ahead of time is key to success in the future.

After doing proper research, here is the Halloween strategy our family decided to follow. It works for us, and is offered for reference. Below please leave a comment if you do something different. I am always open to new ideas.

Tricks on Taming the Halloween Candy Chaos

Prior to Halloween

1. Decorate and Play

Make decorating the house a tradition. Each person in the family can be responsible for an area of the house. If your family is competitive, choose a winner. And don’t forget to read spooky stories or watch some Halloween themed movies.

2. Fill Little Stomachs with Healthy Snacks

If you don’t want your kids to stuff themselves with candy, give them some healthy options prior to trick-or-treating. Involve kids in making the snacks, because then they are more likely to eat own creations. Click here for some Healthy Halloween Snack ideas.

During Trick-or-Treating

3. Know Candy Options

Not all candy affects our teeth the same way. Dentists recommend choosing candy that is eaten fast, rather than those that stay in your mouth for a period of time. Meaning, a chocolate bar is a better option than a lollipop, as less sugar will settle on your kids’ teeth and fewer bacteria will form.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

It is best to start a Halloween candy policy early. For toddlers and preschoolers use the “Candy by Age” rule. The child is allowed to have as many sweets as how old the child is. A 2-year old gets two pieces, a 5-year old will get five.

It gets more difficult to control candy intake as children grow. Hence, it’s a good idea to have realistic and consistent candy rules in place. Allow your child to have 1-2 pieces while trick-or-treating, it will satisfy the craving and get the rest home safe for sorting, counting and trading.

After Halloween

5. Divide and Conquer

Be reasonable with the amounts of sweets your kids can have. According to the researchers, full control and restriction of candy usually backfires at the well-meaning parents. Candy then becomes the forbidden fruit, and may turn into obsession. Teaching your kids to treat themselves to candy in moderation will show them that it’s only a small part of their food choices and will also promote self-control.

There are several options on what can be done with Halloween candy. Discuss the options with your family and decide what will work best for you.

  • Seized by Parent
    Not the most favorable option in my opinion, but done with good intentions in mind. This option lowers kids’ self-esteem by not being given the option to self-regulate candy intake. To avoid hurting your child’s feelings, it may be best to refrain from trick-or-treating as a whole. Watch the kids’ reactions to parents eating their Halloween candy.
  • Keep and Eat
    Kids keep all of their candy preferably in a central location and may have free access to it after agreeing on a daily limit. After a week or two the novelty will wear off and candy can be moved to the fridge and later tossed.
    If the older kids are having troubles with self-control, try requiring them to brush teeth after each candy they eat without setting a daily limit. I am sure after a day or two of constantly brushing teeth they will find their sweet balance.
  • Swap for Healthier Options
    Don’t spoil the trick-or-treating fun for kids with allergies. They can still roam the neighborhood and collect candy, but once they get home parents swap candy for fruit, toy, or hypoallergenic dessert.
  • Invite the Switch Witch
    Allow kids to pick out their favorite candy and leave the rest for the Switch Witch. The witch (aka you) comes at night and trades unwanted candy for a toy. This also teaches kids to prioritize and not to waste their time on something they don’t want.
  • Donate or Sell Candy
    Your child may have a few treats on Halloween and decide to share the holiday spirit with others. There are several programs that will accept Halloween candy as a donation or will even pay your child money to pass the sweets on to our troops overseas, veterans, and military families.
6. Relax and Drink Water

Halloween and trick-or-treating are meant to be enjoyed by all. Indulging in sweets one night of the year will not do any long-term damage to your kids’ health. So relax, have fun, and don’t forget to drink lots of water to rinse the sugar off your teeth.

To the mother of a strong-willed child: Now, I get you!

To the mother of a strong-willed childTonight a friend called and asked me to watch her handsome 1 year old baby boy for a few hours. We’ve had numerous play dates with him. My daughter loves baby D and treats him like a little brother. So I thought: “No big deal! By now (with Anna being close to 2.5 years old) I should probably have a black belt in watching 1-year olds.”

Well… today was the day I realized how easy I have it with my daughter! Don’t get me wrong, baby D was fine playing and going along with his plans for the night. It’s my plans of feeding or bathing everyone preferably at relatively the same time that he had some problems with. And unlike Anna with whom I can usually negotiate, he made sure we all understood that my plan was cutting in front of his. Baby D has a strong will and it takes a lot of patience and adjustment on the caregiver’s side to make things work for both. He is also very strong. At 1 year old he is MUCH stronger than my 2.5 year old! And I am not kidding! The moves and twists he performs when you try to change his diaper or when he tries to escape from the high chair are no joke. I’d call them “stay away or get a bruise” moves!

Luckily, my husband was home and was very helpful with both kids. There were times when I desperately cried for help. Like when I was covered in baby D’s oatmeal and he was trying to escape the high chair, for example. It was a good reminder for me of how easy it is to disregard the unique character each child has. We cannot apply a cookie-cutter parenting method to all children. We must accept and adapt to each personality to make our relationships work. A little help from our loved ones changes the world though!

Overall, to my surprise, we all did great. A few battles here and there, but everyone was successfully fed, bathed, and still had a big smile on. However, I must say to you – moms of strong-willed children – I have a new level of respect and compassion for you. I admire your patience and flexibility. Next time I see you, I‘d be sure to offer some help. Now, I get you!

Here are 7 lessons from tonight and into the future that will help guiding the strong-willed child and avoid power struggles. These helped us, but feel free to modify to suit your child needs.

7 Tips on Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

1. Clear Rules and Consequences

Set the rules and enforce them. The child will constantly test you, so don’t be shy to follow through. Clear boundaries and routines make even a strong-willed child feel safe and in control.

2. Give Advance Notice

As adults like to know the plan ahead of time as it makes us feel in control. So give your child an advance warning so he has time to switch his mind from what he is doing now and has an easier time adjusting.

3. Give Options

Most people don’t like being told what to do, so try giving some choices. Just make sure you agree with both options. For example, instead of telling your child to eat, try asking if he prefers to feed himself or you feeding him.

4. Experience to Mastery

Most children have to experience everything for themselves in order to learn and master a skill. Once you make peace with this and make sure your child in not in danger, relax and let him explore. Messes can be cleaned up, kids can be washed, and most things can be fixed. As a result you will have one happy and proud child; as well as you will save your nerves and relationship with the child.

5. Disregard Tantrums

A tantrum is a cry for attention. And some love is generally in order. However, if you are certain the child is not hurt or in danger, don’t fall for the wet eyes and give in to the tantrum. Stick to your rules and consequences. This is the only way to maintain healthy boundaries.

6. Listen with Respect and Consider His Point of View

Many times we get so busy that we may forget things we’ve promised to our children or we are just in a hurry to deal with emotions of our little one. In both examples the child has a full right to be upset because he is not allowed to break his promises to us or ignore someone else’s hurt feelings. In these cases, you have to model the behavior you expect. Apologize profusely or listen empathetically to his point of view, assure him that you will do your best to keep your promises and show your love. It may be difficult for the very little ones to express their emotions, so you need to help them verbalize what they may be upset about, and you will notice the crying will stop when child feels understood.

7. Praise

Reward behaviors you would like to maintain, and ignore the behaviors you would like to eradicate. Most children react well to positive attention and strive to repeat this behavior to receive more praise.

If you have any other tips on managing a strong-willed child, please share them below in the comments. I will be happy to hear your success stories!