Fam­ily Mat­ters

Working Mother - - Contents -

Ease the tran­si­tion from SAHM to work­ing mom, divvy­ing up hol­i­day host­ing du­ties, and more.

QAfter years at home, I’ve gone back to work, and my tween gets pissed when I can’t drive her to see friends on days I’m in the of­fice. How do I help her get more com­fort­able with the changes?

AWith her grow­ing so­cial to-do list, it’s easy for a tween to over­look your de­mand­ing sched­ule. And each “no” you give can deepen the rift cre­ated when­ever there’s a ma­jor change in an ado­les­cent’s life (not your fault— ev­ery­thing’s a big deal when you’re 12). So in­stead of de­clin­ing ev­ery re­quest for a ride be­cause of work, Karen Petty, chair of fam­ily sciences at Texas Women’s Uni­ver­sity, in Den­ton, TX, sug­gests fo­cus­ing on when you can say yes.

“Make an avail­abil­ity chart, or map out the week that in­cludes a dis­cus­sion of when you can take her and when you can­not,” she rec­om­mends. A visual shows her you’re mak­ing her pri­or­i­ties your pri­or­ity. Plus, “tweens like pre­dictabil­ity and know­ing when their needs and wants will be met. There’s com­fort in know­ing you will be true to your word, and the chart is a con­stant re­minder that they mat­ter.”

But a chart can’t change when mu­si­cal re­hearsal ends, and some­times you’ll have to rely on other par­ents to pick up and drop off. Of course, you can “be­friend your child’s friends’ par­ents who have more-flex­i­ble week­day sched­ules and re­cip­ro­cate with week­end driv­ing,” says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., au­thor of Grow­ing Friend­ships: A Kids’ Guide to Mak­ing and Keep­ing Friends.

Even though your tween might give you flak for the ar­range­ment, Dr. Kennedy-Moore says don’t sweat it; giv­ing in to the guilt trip makes mat­ters worse for both you and your child. “Sup­port­ing your child’s friend­ships is an im­por­tant part of be­ing a good par­ent, but it doesn’t re­quire be­ing an on-de­mand chauf­feur,” ex­plains Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “If you com­mu­ni­cate that you feel guilty for ‘not be­ing there’ to drive, you send a dan­ger­ous mes­sage that he or she is per­ma­nently da­m­aged from miss­ing out on that spon­ta­neous Tuesday-af­ter­noon get-to­gether. There’s more than one way to be there for our kids.”

QI want my school-age chil­dren to know what’s go­ing on in the world, but I’m wor­ried that so­cial-me­dia news posts might mis­lead or up­set them. How can they learn safely on­line?

AAc­cord­ing to Petty, the first step to introducing your kids to world events is to stay up to date on what they’re watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to. In­stead of im­me­di­ately flip­ping to your fa­vorite news chan­nel or web­site when you get home, ask your kids what they’d like to check out. “Watch at a close dis­tance with­out com­men­tary, but be open for pos­si­ble ques­tions and di­a­logue,” she says.

When it comes to fright­en­ing events, Petty says to fo­cus on how peo­ple are try­ing to help dur­ing the tragedy. She uses the ex­am­ple of a dev­as­tat­ing tor­nado. “Talk about the cleanup progress,” for in­stance, “or how strong the winds dur­ing a tor­nado can be­come. That restarts the con­ver­sa­tion about safety dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters ev­ery time.”

But re­mem­ber: Your re­ac­tion to the news of­ten in­flu­ences how your kids will re­act. “When your child sees you’re not be­ing hon­est about how you feel, it makes them even more scared,” says Ca­role Lieber­man M.D., me­dia psy­chi­a­trist and au­thor of LIONS and TIGERS and TER­ROR­ISTS, Oh My! How to Pro­tect Your Child in a Time of Ter­ror. “We all wish we could pro­vide our kids with a world made up of pup­pies and rain­bows, but that isn’t to­day’s re­al­ity.” So don’t hold in your true feel­ings and opin­ions, but leave room for plenty of dis­cus­sion.

Even once your fam­ily is ex­pert at con­fronting tragic events, there’s still fake news to con­sider. How do you keep your kids from read­ing or hear­ing in­ac­cu­rate info?

Ana Ho­may­oun, so­cial-me­dia ex­pert and au­thor of So­cial Me­dia Well­ness: Help­ing Teens and Tweens Thrive in an Un­bal­anced Dig­i­tal World, says to work on your kids’ pa­tience and crit­i­cal-think­ing skills so they can bet­ter eval­u­ate whether a news source is trust­wor­thy.

“Pa­tience means tak­ing the time to read through ar­ti­cles rather than im­me­di­ately es­tab­lish­ing [ head­lines] as fact, and click­ing through to learn more about the au­thor,” she says. Read­ing sites’ About Us pages can also be use­ful. Teach your child how to “iden­tify whether the au­thor has an ob­jec­tive or sub­jec­tive point of view … and the au­thor’s in­tent for writ­ing the work.” A Google search might re­veal the writer’s mo­ti­va­tions, like ties to or­ga­ni­za­tions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

One short­cut: “Help kids come up with their top 10 news sources to fil­ter for rep­utable in­for­ma­tion,” Ho­may­oun adds. Then they can do less leg­work when they come across news from those vet­ted sources.

QMy mother is too sick to host Thanks­giv­ing this year, and I’m too busy to swing it. Can I po­litely ask my sis­ter, a stay-ath­ome mom, to host?

AEven though your sis­ter seems like the ob­vi­ous hol­i­day host, “don’t make any as­sump­tions on how busy your SAHM sis­ter might or might not be,” says Lori K. Long, Ph.D., busi­ness pro­fes­sor at Bald­win Wal­lace Uni­ver­sity, in Berea, OH, and au­thor of The Par­ent’s Guide to Fam­ily-Friendly Work. “While she might not un­der­stand your sched­ule, you might not un­der­stand the ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties she has taken on while at home.”

Ap­proach her the way you would a col­league with a work prob­lem. “Start with mak­ing sure you agree on the chal­lenge,” Dr. Long rec­om­mends. “With your mother ill, you both most likely want to en­joy a stress-free Thanks­giv­ing dur­ing which your fam­i­lies can spend time with your mother.” You know it’d be stress­ful for you to host, but you might not know what in par­tic­u­lar stresses out your sis­ter. “Per­haps it’s the financial bur­den of pro­vid­ing the meal. Or maybe she feels the same way as you do about host­ing in her home,” says Dr. Long.

Once you have this open, hon­est con­ver­sa­tion, brain­storm a so­lu­tion. “Maybe she wouldn’t mind host­ing at her home if you help out with the food. Or maybe you agree that find­ing a caterer would be best. By work­ing to­gether, you are likely to come up with a cre­ative al­ter­na­tive where nei­ther of you is stressed.”

Even if you can’t drive her, you can still have her back.

You can’t as­sume they’re vis­it­ing your fa­vorite news sites.

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