Why the Coexist Bumper Stickers Bug Me

October 21, 2014 by ldecesare

Click here to read my latest post on Huffington Post, Healthy Living.

coexist bumper sticker, expecting more than to coexist, loving our neighbors, red car with coexist bumper sticker, coexist foundation, @coexistcampaign

You know the “Coexist” bumper sticker? It bugs me. I think it’s simply setting the bar way too low.

We already live together with people of all different backgrounds, philosophies, theologies, colors of skin, shouldn’t we want more than to simply be able to be in the same space together? In teaching our children about life, the tippy top lesson is really all about LOVE. Love yourself, love your neighbors.

Manners, household chores, siblings, homework, athletics, kindness in the lunchroom or boardroom, driving, waiting in lines, everything in life boils down to love. Simply love. Coexisting isn’t loving, it’s eeking by. It’s occupying space side by side.

To be clear, I have nothing against the Coexist Foundation or their mission and work. There are so many organizations of good in this world, the generosity is breathtaking, I simply argue with the word “coexist” as being weak and diluted.

Words like tolerance come to mind when I see the coexist symbols. Does anyone want to be just tolerated? No. People want to be embraced, cared for, loved. We can do that through words, actions, service, beliefs, gestures, donations, smiles, letters, and more whether across the street or across the globe.

I see it as an issue of open hearts and open minds, welcoming and accepting and cherishing each individual. We’re not going to bond, hit it off, or even like everyone we meet but I live my life and teach our kids to live with kindness, to act with love and respect toward everyone they meet. And everyone they don’t meet. Listen actively to another person’s point of view, experiences, and opinions. Disagree, sure, but do it with respect and compassion.

There is an absolute need to be culturally open and inquisitive. That’s one of the million reasons I love to travel, I get a glimpse into different histories, different ways of life, different values. It intrigues me, empowers me, and makes me more curious and more understanding. We grow when we can stretch beyond our own ways and ideas.

I feel the same way about someone who comes from my hometown, who lives down the street, who goes to my church, who seems to be similar to me. They’re still different. They have their own histories and life stories, their own experiences and pains, struggles, triumphs. Those stories and points of view are valuable and I love to explore and share in them, too.

We’re all different even if we belong to a group with an identified symbol. Yet, who can be defined just by one affiliation or one belief system? Who fits tidily under one label? We all have more facets than the best cut diamond, there’s no knowing without exploring and looking deeper. You can’t do that by just coexisting.

READ MORE on Huffington Post

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

You are the Single Greatest Influence

October 16, 2014 by ldecesare

know it all, teen years, parents influence in kids lives, parenting teens

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014 by ldecesare

Thank you to Deborah Shelby for this guest post on ways to create happy memories with our kids. I love her ideas and nodded reading this as they reinforce so many of the principles I write about in Naked Parenting. Enjoy the read, and your kiddos!

 Guest post by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

owl, create happy memories, no regrets parenting, have fun with your kids, messy projects, Motherhood is tough. Trying to take care of your family, your home, your work, balancing it all, and making your family’s lives run smoothly are exhausting.

I know you’re busy and tired and at times overwhelmed. But imagine five years from now, or ten years from now, what do you want to remember about this time in your life and your children’s lives? In twenty years, how do you want your children to remember their childhoods?  What kinds of memories will they have of their mom and their family life?

As a mother of teenagers, here are a few lessons I’ve learned to create happy memories and bond with my kids:

The best memories and most fun are the messiest activities!

I can’t tell you how many of my kids’ friends loved playing at our house for Play-doh alone. Most of them were not allowed to play with it at home because it’s so messy. There’s real work involved in the cleanup, and it’s time-consuming. It gets ground into the carpet. I get it. Yes, it’s a pain. But 10 years from now, your kids will treasure those fond memories of creativity and squishy, moldable fun!  Put an old shower curtain under the table that you can roll up and take outside to clean.

I also gave my children plastic aprons, and I allowed them to paint and have stamp pads and make mess pretty much any time, as long as they followed the rules. They learned quite young how to be respectful of our home and help clean up and how to be responsible with their supplies. They took care of rinsing paint brushes and cleaning their rubber stamps.

Another messy activity you shouldn’t deny your kids is letting them jump in mud puddles. We always kept rubber boots for the kids, and stomping in mud puddles was incredible fun. Yes, you’ll have more laundry. But again, you’re giving your kids wonderful, happy childhood memories.

Nurture your relationship with your kids by giving them your undivided attention.

Make sure your children understand how important they are. If you want them to talk to you about their lives when they are teenagers and young adults, you’ll have to listen to those excited, shrill, little-kid voices first. Listen when they want to tell you something. Whenever possible, stop what you’re doing when they want to show you something. Make time for what is important to your children.

Telling your kids they are important is not as powerful as showing them how important they are to you. Saying, “I love you” is not as powerful as making your children feel loved. Be mindful of how you talk to your friends and family about your kids. You never want to let them overhear you talking like they are an inconvenience or a chore.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending. –Virginia Satir

Be funny!

A sense of humor is your best defense when parenthood gets tough. Laughter is also a strong bonding experience. The more you laugh together, the better and closer your relationship will be. I have found humor an especially important tool in getting my children to listen to me when I have a tough time getting their attention. As you know, kids can get a bit wild. Sometimes it seems like they can’t even hear you telling them for the third time that it’s bath time.

I could scream and yell and threaten, but I find it more effective to do something silly and unexpected. Like stick on a fake mustache. Or start talking in a funny accent and pretend to misunderstand what they say. When kids are laughing, it’s hard for them to be grumpy or disagreeable.

Take the time to truly enjoy your children.

The time you spend playing dinosaurs and Polly Pockets now will pay off when your kids still want to enjoy your company as teenagers. Play with them! Play the things they want to. It was gross when I used to turn over logs for my little boy to see what kind of bugs were underneath, but I did it anyway. When my little girl wanted to pour me a 7th cup of “tea” (or 77th), I pretended to drink it cheerfully.

Plan fun activities and adventures together. Really enjoy your children’s company to create happy memories together. Worry more about that than about trying to capture a picture for Facebook. Don’t view your kids’ childhood only through a camera lens.

Create Special Moments for Bonding.

Bedtime is one of the best opportunities for bonding experiences with your kids. I know you’re frazzled and tired at the end of the day, but when you look back on these years, you want happy memories, not regrets!

I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up.  -Tina Turner

Stagger bedtimes by 15 or 20 minutes if your kids are in separate bedrooms so you can spend time with each one. Always read books together. Sing lullabies to your children. Talk quietly together. As your kids get older, they won’t talk to you as much after school about their day, but they usually will open up more at bedtime.

Eventually my kids got old enough that they begged me to stop singing, which is actually quite funny. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but they begged for my lullabies when they were little. When they got older and wanted to read their own books to themselves, we would all pile into my bed, each of us with our own different book, and still read “together.” Eventually they outgrew that too, but my teenagers still like to hang out with me before bed and talk.

Car rides are the other golden opportunity for talking and bonding. Resist the urge to put an electronic gizmo in your kids’ hands for car rides if possible. Ask about subjects the kids are interested in, and let them talk.

When kids grow up talking to you in the car or at bedtime, they’ll be more likely to continue the familiar practices when they’re older. It’s also easier for teenagers to talk to you on a car ride when you’re looking at the road ahead than at home when you’re looking at them. It’s one of those weird truisms for teens. Take advantage of it. Don’t let opportunities for bonding and making happy memories with your children pass by. One day soon it’ll be too late.

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. ― Barbara Johnson

About the Author:
image deborah shelby, prayerful mom, mom bloggerDeborah Shelby is a life and happiness enthusiast, full-time working mom, and writer. She shares ideas and inspiration to help busy moms live a happier and better life on her site Prayerful Mom, soon to be renamed Happier Better Life.

 

150x150_rounded

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

October 3, 2014 by ldecesare

Just this past weekend, before this infographic landed in my inbox, a group of us were talking about the importance of kids learning handwriting and cursive writing. Even with the continually increasing use of keyboards and index finger typing, kids need to learn to read and write with their hands.

I’m happy to share this infographic based on research on the topic of why handwriting helps you learn.

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

 

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

We Shouldn’t Engineer Childhood

September 26, 2014 by ldecesare

engineer childhood, let kids fail, failures and mistakes as parents, let kids be kids

September is Menopause Awareness Month

September 22, 2014 by ldecesare

fall leaf, changing leaves, The Change, menopause awareness, perimenopause symptoms, pregnant late in lifeToday is the last day of summer. Perhaps figuratively, too. This week, a piece I wrote appeared on the Huffington Post, 44 and Pregnant?, and it stirred a flurry of comments, emotions, private emails, and lot’s of questions and speculations on my Facebook pages. (No, I’m NOT pregnant!) The punchline, it turns out, is menopause. Fitting that September is Menopause Awareness Month!

So as summer creeps into fall outside, it seems it’s also happening within me. Many women reached out to me saying that they have experienced the same moments of wondering and worrying, dreaming and freaking out, that I talk about in 44 and Pregnant. Did you know that women between 40-44 years old account for the second highest unintended pregnancy rate? It’s shocking to think I’m even in the age category to be talking about the “M” word let alone be experiencing the precursors to “The Change.”

Menopause is medically defined  as cessation of menstruation for one full year, but every woman’s different and our bodies may start seeing a range of symptoms in the decade or so leading up to menopause, called perimenopause. The Menopause Awareness Month site says: “There are 34 different symptoms of menopause. Some physical. Some physiological. Some psychological. All frustrating and debilitating.”

On the list of exciting possible symptoms: mood changes and mood swings (that’s always a joy), joint pains, irregular and erratic periods, insomnia, memory loss, itchy skin, headaches, weight gain, and the ever-so-famous hot flashes …. And have you ever experience night sweats? There’s nothing like waking up slippery and soaking. (If it happened to you after your babies were born, you’ve gotten a peek into the future fun.) Oh, and as an added bonus, with menopause, women’s chances of osteoporosis and heart attack increase.

As a northeasterner my whole life, I’ve always said that I love the four seasons, the changing air, temperatures, colors, and ways of life as the year circles round. So on this, the last day of summer, my optimistic nature also makes me look at perimenopause with a positive lens. What comes next? While the symptoms might be difficult, annoying, and worse, what will life bring as I age? I enjoyed life with three of my four grandparents all of whom lived into their mid-late 90′s. I want to live long and see my grandchildren have children, I want to be a great grandmother, too. I feel very blessed that my own kids knew my grandparents so well.

I watch my mother and women her age, and older, who are so vibrant, active, and who are living life fully and giving much to others and the world around them. The autumn of life brings an easing of the daily tasks that life with children at home and active schedules brings, it affords more leisure, more time to slow down and do things you care about most. That’s a lifestyle I aspire to, and I try to implement those lessons now, instead of waiting for later.

My point is, menopause and perimenopause can be a time we welcome, just as we can celebrate a young woman beginning her menses and all that it means, all the hope and joy it holds. I’m working to embrace this change, this transition, and one day, maybe I’ll even be able to see it as a transformation.

So, happy Menopause Awareness Month! Whether you’re far from this time, still having babies, or if you’re on its doorstep as I am, it’s part of being a woman, it can be empowering if we allow it to be.

Screw the hot flashes and night sweats, here I come, watch out!

Some resources:

Hormone Health Awareness

Menopause.org

Menopause Awareness Month – official site

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

p-_j53ayb9sRH9s