Raising Boys and Girls: The Differences

My boys were born in 2005 and 2006. I thought I’d never have a daughter and felt a small amount of sadness.

A small change occurred in 2008 in the form of a little girl, Lily. She even got her own post, My Dream Girl

I didn’t think there were many differences between raising boys and girls- at first. I must have been in a sleepy haze or serious denial. Now that I’ve caught up on a few years of sleep, I’m much wiser.

Ladies First…

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Lily at the Louisville Zoo, Summer 2018

I was once a little girl. I couldn’t have been that difficult to raise, right? I asked my mom if I was as dramatic, loud and messy af as Lily is. We call her room “the kid version of “Hoarders” because it’s never clean for more than a day. My mother told me yes, I was loud (I’m still loud at 35, no shocker), dramatic, but not quite at her level of messy.

THANKS, MOM.

Puberty has come for us and the current situation is buying bras. I had to get her a real bra recently, not just the cute sports bras. Yikes. She’s 10. Is this a thing? I skipped training bras and went straight to regular ones.

We’re a bit gentler on Lily. She’s more sensitive than her brothers and still may be developmentally delayed. (She is getting evaluated very soon.) That requires a different mindset. I have to teach her different things- to know her worth as the woman she will become, how to say “no” and not feel bad, caring for others (as in a family, should she have one) and many other things. The boys will get the same lessons but obviously slightly tweaked.

Lily loves clothes and has shown interest in makeup which is a great thing. I can’t wait to see this develop. This is just a glimpse into the fun parts of raising a daughter.

The Boy Brigade

Arch pic

Cameron and Julian in the cart at the Arch

These guys have been full of adventure since birth. They have really lived up to the hype of “boys get into everything”. Once Julian was able to walk and talk, the joint adventures began. They have rode in laundry baskets down our stairs, made a slip n slide on the kitchen floor, slid down the driveway on sleds, gotten injured together (Julian ended up with staples in his head) and many more things.

Now they team up to see who can annoy Lily and Mom the most.

Most of the time, the boys are low-maintenance and I appreciate this. Sometimes. I don’t appreciate them wearing the same socks for four days in a row, using their bed as a trash can or any of the other many gross things they do. Ew. My boys have shared a bedroom since Lily was born. They’re cool with this, probably because they can stay up late, talk and plot to take over the universe.

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Julian making a bubble at the Louisville Science Center

Being the mom of two boys has lowered my shock factor. At this point, if someone isn’t bleeding, broken a bone or the house isn’t on fire, I’m good. As of writing this, two out of the three have occurred- no worries, my house has never caught on fire. Boys have been much easier to raise- they do get mad, they cry, but with a lot less drama involved.

Well, with one. Julian and Lily participate in what I call “The Petty Olympics” to see who can fight over the smaller things. This, of course, is when Mom is done for the day, maybe even the week.

We feed them, keep them clean, medicate them (both are on meds- Cameron takes one for migraines and SVT and Julian has his ADHD meds) and love them. I think they’re doing pretty well. Keeping them clean is a bit interesting- their showers are destroying our water bill. Lily needs a bit more to keep going but some kids do. We’re okay with that.

Magic house pic

Cameron at the Magic House in St. Louis

I’ve been very lucky to been able to have these kids. All jokes aside, they complete my life.

Do you have kids of both sexes? What differences have you seen? If you don’t have kids, what do you think?

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The Time Crunch: How to Spend Time With Your Kids

Kids and Brain Power

It’s much easier to spend time with one kid than two, three or more. Once you have more than one, things get a bit more complicated. You have to divide not just your time, but also your brainpower. As they get bigger, the more of both they need. If you have more than two, it just gets more interesting.

I have three- in the midst of my prenatal and postpartum depression during and after my pregnancy with Julian, I wondered how I would ever spend enough time with Cameron. I worried about ignoring his needs for Julian’s. I worried about this years later when Julian’s needs became obvious. Most moms in my spot would have this same fear, so I didn’t feel too out of place about it.

The Onward March

As the kids have gotten a bit older and developed personalities, I have figured out ways to spend time alone with them. The house has calmed down enough to allow for this to happen.

  • Car rides. Julian loves going anywhere in the car. He isn’t ready yet to be left alone without an adult at home (he actually told us this) so if it is just us in the car, we talk about whatever is on his mind. If he doesn’t want to talk, this is fine. Sometimes he doesn’t, because he isn’t the most talkative kid. I let him change the stations on the radio and this is a good opening for us to talk about the songs he likes.
  • Look for the small moments. Sometimes you just have to find the smallest moments to talk. Lily was our main dog walker when we had Tiger, and when I walked with her, we would talk about her day at school. We enjoyed this a lot. Once Tiger was gone, I would still walk her home sometimes from school (our house is less than a mile from her bus stop) and have our talk on the way home.
  • Cameron takes a nap almost every day, but when he comes in the door from school, he usually comes in wherever I am to say hello. This is part of our routine. Having a routine helps. Even if he sleeps most of the day away after that, we’ve at least touched base for the day.
  • Field trips. I went on at least one field trip with each kid this school year. This is a great way to get in quality time with each kid. You can’t take siblings and it’s fun. I usually signed them out for the day after because it’s so late in the school day after the trip. It also gives both of you good memories.
  • Try for a once a month date with each kid. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It can be a trip to get a snack, or just to the park. As long as it is just the two of you, that is all that matters. Kids love getting the one on one time with Mom and Dad. It gets hard sometimes but it is well worth the time.

Spending Time with Mom and Dad?

I know, teens really might shudder at this one.

Ew.

We aren’t that fun anymore, but they’ll get over it about the time they go to college. Just switch off Fortnite and go for it. You’ll thank yourself later.

Take turns picking and you might be surprised what your teen picks. Teens are pretty fun people. Sometimes.

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What is the most fun thing you have done with your child lately?

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Why You Need to be Ready for Peer Pressure

Puberty is a Sneaky Thing

Teenagers, and all the interesting things that come along with them, sneak up on us before we even think we are ready. I barely blinked before Cameron turned 13. His voice is getting deep, he’s taller than me, and what is food? It disappears before I see it. This kid is still writing the parenting manual at my house because, clearly, this book will never be done.

Peer pressure hasn’t really hit my house yet, but I’m waiting on it. I think at some point, most kids encounter it. It might not be at school, but at school events, the park, mall, wherever else teens hang out.

NOTE: In drug descriptions, I will use the legal term for the substance. I prefer not to use slang.

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The Main Lesson

I’m skipping the main description of peer pressure, because anyone reading this is an adult and most of us have been there at least once. (Remember cutting class? That counts.) Everyone’s description is a bit different, so I’ll leave that one open.

Why do you need to be ready for it?

  1. Blood pressure purposes. I’ve had a stroke and it’s not fun. I’d like everyone reading this to avoid that scenario when your teen comes home and wants to talk about being asked to smoke a cigarette, marijuana, drink or do many of the wildly stupid challenges they have seen on YouTube.(Julian has enlightened me on that arena, and all I can say is… wow. We have had to have a few talks on that, seeing as he is the family stunt man. I can only hope those talks stick in his mind.)
  2. To know what to say. Everyone sees things differently, but nobody wants to judge their kid, right? I don’t do scripts in parenting. because that never goes well, but I do suggest asking your child what was going on when they were asked to cut class/ use a drug/drink/etc, how they felt about it, whether they wanted to, why or why not/ what happened, etc. This will likely get you better results. Talking calmly usually does. Your teen is more likely to talk to a calmer parent.
  3. Watch out for personality and other changes. Peer pressure can get intense. If you dealt with it as a teen, you can probably remember how hard it was to deal with- anxiety, depression, even anger. If your child decides for some reason to go along with the things he or she is being pressured into, there will be even bigger changes. You’ll probably be able to see those- personality changes, maybe changes in how they dress, eat, etc.
  4. To be able to help if your child doesn’t go along with the crowd. Most teens just want to fit in. Cameron had to wear a heart monitor 24/7 for a month, and it had cords that dangled a bit. He was usually able to keep them covered, but one of his classmates saw the cord and asked what it was- he told her it was for earbuds. He didn’t want to tell her he was on a heart monitor. He just wanted to be like every other 7th grader and have earbuds dangling out of his pocket at school. If your child faces peer pressure and decides not to go along with everyone else, they may face some backlash, most likely in the form of bullying. Please see my post Bullying: A Closer Look if you need information on this issue.
  5. To be able to stay informed. I mentioned YouTube videos earlier- those stunt videos are just one trend that teens get into, but it’s good to stay somewhat up to date on things. Talk to other parents, family members, etc. It can be helpful in trying to deter your teen from potentially dangerous activities.

Happy parenting! It’s a blast, isn’t it?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

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Twin Mummy and Daddy
Bringing up Georgia

Teens and Privacy: Where Do You Draw The Line?

The Challenges of Social Media

Teens are a challenge and a half. I’m just wandering into the pool of those challenges- most of them weren’t even on my radar until recently.

Everyone needs privacy. We need our space from others, physically and emotionally. We need our own space to grow and express thoughts. Teens need this for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons being that they are trying to figure themselves out. Remember how hard that was? Yikes.

Resist the urge to hover- this may lead to your child hiding things from you and/or lying. This can lead to worse things that you anticipated.

What Our Parents Didn’t Worry About

In the age of technology, privacy can get a bit worrisome. Parents have a lot more to worry about now than our parents did. We have to worry about Instagram and other social site pictures being too revealing and suggestive. We have to worry about our kids being bullied because that ends tragically far too often. We worry about our kids being targeted while they play video games. These are just a few things that our parents never had to think about.

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Talking to Your Children

Opening up a conversation about privacy can be a bit awkward. It’s hard to start the conversation without being weird- you may have to look for an opening.

Do you already have an open relationship with your child? If you do, this may be a bit easier. If not, you may have to do a little more work to ease into it.

Go to my Freebie Page and find some helpful tips for talking to your kids. They require careful steps but in the end, everyone will be glad for the talk. The teenage years can get pretty awkward and a bit scary. Kids need to know they can talk to their parents about anything, including things that go on in the electronic world.

What if my child won’t talk or let me see what I ask for?

This is a rough one. Some kids aren’t talkers. I’ve got a couple. I’m not saying just let the quieter kids be- because they still need to know the importance of opening up and respecting this request. Losing their privilege can be a huge incentive to give you the information you want.

Assure your child that they can come to you if they are scared. That may be all they need.

There are some great apps for keeping an eye on what your kids do online- I use Net Nanny and it is super simple. It’s free and sends me a weekly summary of anything blocked or warned due to something the kids shouldn’t have looked up or sites they don’t need to be on. They also know about this and that they will lose all privileges if I get anything from this page.

As of this post, nothing has ever popped up in the whole time I have had this installed. We share a YouTube account and I can see everything they look up on Google. Some parents I know require their kids to charge devices together in one room after a certain time, access to devices (including phones) at any time they request it, or a little bit of both. As of now, none of my kids have a phone, but I can see this changing pretty soon. The tablets haven’t been much of a challenge so far, but things will be a bit more interesting once phones are involved.

I’m not a fan of breaking and entering into your child’s room. I don’t recommend this at all, except in one condition. That condition is if you are certain your child is in imminent danger and/or there is illegal activity involved. By all means, break down the door and go for it. This also applies for self-harm and other mental health reasons.

I’m hoping that I never have to sneak in my kids’ room and go through their things. I hope we are able to talk through things and come to a solution first.

What are your thoughts?

Twin Mummy and Daddy

LGBTQ Kids: A Guide

Parenting is full of challenges. We face them everyday- food allergies, mental and/or physical disabilities, bullying, and the list goes on.

There’s a point in life in which our kids decide to date and none of us are ever ready for that- it freaks us out. This happens as early as 12 or 13 (Cameron is 13 and hasn’t thought about a girl yet. This is fine with me.) or can be years later. Most of us don’t blink an eye at who they will date, because we just assume they will date someone of the opposite sex, right?

What Happens When They Don’t?

I’ve already thought this one out. I don’t care. As long as my kids find someone that loves and supports them, I honestly don’t care who they date. Race isn’t an issue for obvious reason, and that’s not the topic of the post. I just want my kids to be happy with whoever they love. That’s it. If Lily brings home a girl and they get married, then I get to watch them say yes to the dress or whatever they wear.

My best male friends are gay, and my cousin Jason is now my cousin Julie, thanks to the wonders of surgery. She is brave as hell for coming out as transgender and having surgery. She even changed her birth certificate in Florida. Our family embraced her in her changes and barely batted an eye. There’s really no point in ridiculing someone for being who they are. You can’t change someone’s sexuality.

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Being a teen is hard enough as it is today. There’s so much pressure to get great grades, fit in, get into a good college, work, and so on. When you’re a 16 year old girl who likes other girls, it gets a bit harder to be “normal”. You wonder if others would still like you, even your own family. You grew up hearing slurs about homosexuals and you know it’s not going to be great if you tell your parents.

Then there’s the boys who want to date you and you know they won’t stay away forever. All you want is to find a girl that likes you and that you like back, but how does that work? It’s confusing and scary. Bullying is a thing, and LGBTQ teens have it harder.

Stats hrc.org, kids, LGBTQ

Coming out is scary. It’s rough. The average age is 17, much younger than it used to be according to a British study found on Everyday Feminism

Teens are smart- they know the risks of telling their families something this big. Some families are accepting, and some families are ready to kick their kids right out of the house, which is a shame.

It’s heartbreaking to know that some kids feel they have to hide this part of themselves, because it can lead to drug and/or substance abuse issues, along with mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. A kid can only mask so much for so long. It does get better, time goes by, people do open their minds to new things.

Sometimes the people they think will have horrible reactions will have the opposite reaction. The negative messages are also an issue- they can send a message that a kid is a bad person, or is “going to hell”, etc. This can just add to already negative thoughts that a kid can have about themselves.

It gets better when LGBTQ kids find others like them- online, in school, through other friends, in other ways. It does help that many LGBTQ kids are out to their friends and classmates. Those friends and classmates, for the most part, are accepting, and can be a great source of support.

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What Can Parents Do?

  • Let them know you love them. I’m pretty sure this is the biggest part of accepting your child, no matter what. They need to know this. The scariest thing to many LGBTQ kids is coming out. Once they know they have parental support, there is a huge sense of relief. Be as open minded and present as you can be, even if you aren’t quite sure what to do.
  • Research. Parenting requires a lot of thinking and reading. We don’t always know what to do. That’s why the Internet exists. There are quite a few websites for parents of LGBTQ kids, including Hopkins Medicine
  • Talk about it. This doesn’t mean hound about their sex life, because that’s definitely awkward for everyone involved, but let them know you are there when they need you, if they have questions, etc.
  • Remember this is not a “phase”, there is no “cure”, and there is nobody to “blame”.
  • Watch out for bullying at school. It’s a reality that LGBTQ kids are bullied at school and other places. If you need to, get involved with the school. You can read Bullying: A Closer Look for more ideas and resources.
  • Talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed.

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The world of teenage dating can get pretty complicated, this is just a different road. It’s possible to walk together with your child. Cheer them on!

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Statistics pics courtesy of hrc.org

Info can be found on:

Everyday Feminism

Hopkins Medicine