Tag Archives: Tweens

Love Your Daughter, As She Is: Take it A Step Further

I felt the need to piggy back onto friend and colleague Christina Katz’s post from yesterday: Love Your Daughter As She Is Day! A Call For Society To Confront Our Obsession with Anorexic-looking Women (read the full post here).

In summary, after viewing the Academy Awards with her daughter, Christina put out a call to moms everywhere to stand up to the image that Hollywood projects to our impressionable daughters, that of thinness—to the the extent of sometimes resembling expensively-coutured living skeletons. (The sometimes-sometimes-not revered Angelina Jolie looked like hell, reminiscent of the emaciated Lara Flynn Boyle during her Jack Nicholson days.) We need to be having conversations about healthy body image with our daughters.

With all of the focus on “Who are you wearing?” and the major brown-nosing, the spotlight on the Red Carpet and during the Oscars was on unhealthy “beauty,” thinness wrapped up in ridiculously expensive clothing and jewels, with “perfect” hair and make-up, that mere humans can’t even begin to dream about. They can covet it though… And our young daughters can be easily persuaded to covet Holocaustic thinness, because it considered “beautiful” by the obscenely rich and famous.

My girls have gone there, as Christina’s daughter has, comparing themselves to what they see in magazines, on TV and online. They notice. How can they not with all of the images pounding regularly into their psyches?

What do I tell my daughters? I tell them they’re perfect just the way they are (same for my sons). They should have and demand respect for themselves and their bodies. They should love the bodies were given and appreciate their uniqueness. And, of course, as their mom and a woman, I can be part of the problem or the solution.

Christina states, “We can change our daughters’ futures by raising our own awareness about self-abuse among women and talking openly and honestly about how to love and accept ourselves instead of further dis-empowering and abusing our bodies.”

I agree. And so I take it a step further. What am I modeling for my girls? How do I feel about myself? My weight, height, body type, how I’m aging? And more importantly, how do I address it? Do I run to a plastic surgeon, diet, and/or bemoan the unjustness and effects of time and gravity? (NO!) How do I take care of myself (eat, drink exercise, relax, play)? What are my friendships like? How do I treat others? How do I honor myself?

You get the idea. What are your ideas for empowering our next generation of women? Share here and pass it on!

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting, The International Mom

From the Inside Out

I’m not a big shopper. I find it endlessly tiresome and frustrating, preferring to binge-shop with my lists of needed items in hand (after taking inventory) to alleviate multiple trips. Or shop online. I did roughly 90% of my 2011 holiday shopping online. I can do it efficiently and be cost-effective.

I’ve found venturing out to shop the after-the-season sales and clearance racks, in hopes that the clothing will “fit” the following year, to be extremely worthwhile. Well, that is until one of our kids hits The Major Growth Spurt; then I’m doing all I can to keep that child clothed.

Shopping for clothes becomes more challenging as the child enters teenagedom and has interesting perspectives about what looks good or appropriate. Six-inch platform stilettos, paired with a skirt that comes to just under the bucket and the half-inch-thick padded bra advertising young breasts above the low neckline, communicating, “I want to be more—older, experienced—than I am. Look at me!” on a tween or teenage girl screams a troubling and potentially dangerous message. Pants that hang and are belted below the bucket do not fit, look ridiculously stupid, can be hazardous to walk in, or embarrassing when pooling around the ankles in a mishap, say while going through airport security.

I worry about who kids want to emulate. I’m not raising Barbie dolls, streetwalkers, gangsters, or sheep. I will listen and consider, but have final say-so. Fortunately the big guy and I are on the same page. We hold the purse. We are the parents.

A began her growth spurt, therefore extremely difficult to fit.  J needed a few more options for school. So, we went shopping at the mall right after it opened to avoid the crowds. All six of us. Not so easy, especially with opinionated teens.

Store after store, no luck. What H or Mom liked, J or A didn’t. What J liked, Mom didn’t. G? He was like the orbiting sun, happy to be along on this fascinating family adventure.

J wanted to try on those shoes because she wanted to see what they felt like. And I asked her if it was worth chancing turning or braking an ankle and being out for the season. “No!” she said.

However, A slipped into a pair while I was talking to J. “Mom, you’re so short!” My twelve-year-old daughter shared as she towered over me, laughing.

We left and kept moving through the mall. At H’s urging we entered the inner sanctum of the dimly-lit-heavily-atomized-every-five-minutes-store, the one with the loud, pounding music and gargantuan photos that have been relegated to behind the counters because parents of kids wanted the soft-porn images taken out of the store windows. We kept the kids away from the counters…

Mark had been quiet. But I wasn’t worried because I knew he’d come through, and he did. In the back of the store stood my husband with A. Our daughter was wearing a very age-appropriate item of clothing that fit her well, with a little room to grow into.

A was beaming up at her dad. I could hear him tell her about respecting herself; that she was beautiful inside and out, and only becoming more so. What she had on was respectful to her body. He went on, explaining how nice she looked in it and gave her ideas on how to wear it and what to accessorize it with. And I cried because it was a special father-daughter moment not to be intruded on and my daughter was shining form the inside out as she basked in the attention and love of her father.

I’m going to encourage Mark to do more shopping with our daughters. He relates beautifully and compassionately with the girls. His male and father perspective can help to instill and reinforce their self-awareness and esteem as they grow into women.

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2011 Wrap-Up

January: Our year of milestones began with two celebrations—New Years (everyone stayed up late and welcomed in the new year for the first time) and Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos, with a very stale Rosca de Reyes. My bad for buying one instead of making it myself. Josi became a bonafide teenager, and has been steadily working on proving it throughout 2011.  I brought up the rear with an appearance on TogiNet Radio’s Adoption ~ Journey to Motherhood, hosted by Mary Beth Wells. The program centered around one of the classes I teach: Tweens, Teens & Beyond. The half hour flew and I was delighted to not know the format of the show prior to coming on. Wish there had been time for more dialogue… I had a lot to say (per usual).

February ushered in Snowmaggedon and Chinese New Year—the year of the Golden Rabbit, a year in which we were supposed to catch our breath and focus on calm (maybe this year??), and Aubry’s second celestial stem (“second twelve”) of her first life cycle this year (sixty years in Chinese zodiac cycle).

In March Holden turned eighteen, and that added new worries for Mom. I was involved in The Parenting Summit, a free online event that featured video messages from a number of a leading parenting and family experts. The focus of the summit was to share tips and advice on becoming a more effective parent. It was stressful to tape myself; I prefer a live audience… (You guess right if you thought I spoke about transracial parenting and adoption.)

April took us to our beloved Pawleys for our last-in-a-long-time-maybe-ever family vacay, this time with my mother-in-law in tow. We enjoyed the cooler weather at the beach and some respite from a very hectic schedule and the intense focus on Holden’s IB studies and college. Holden made a decision on which college he would attend. (Note: We were, and still are, thrilled with his decision)

May was a terribly emotional roller coaster. We lost Mark’s dad on the 17th, ten years after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, while Holden sat for his IB exams.  Our oldest graduated from high school a week later, missing most of the pre-graduation pictures because he had a car accident (he was fine, although shaken up).

The International Dad wrote a guest post in June for Father’s Day.  We also celebrated our 20th anniversary, family-style. The couple-style will be celebrated in 2012… I began weaning myself from asking Holden to pick up the driving slack. The family began to “breathe,” absorbing the slower and quieter pace of life.

July heralded our first ever non-family vacation, if you could call it that. I coined it an orbiting vacation. Josi went to an invitation-only national soccer camp in the south (which is why we went to Pawleys in April), and we stayed on a lake in the next state. It was so sweltering that even the bugs were stopped their bugging. Holden stayed home to work, and yep… Accident. This one totaled the car, although he was fine. There are reasons a mother worries. (He still doesn’t have a car.)

August arrived quickly, and with it professional expansion: The launch of my first micro-published work: What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, which I wrote because I saw a need to assist parents with ideas and support when their children are entering adolescence, when questions and emotions tied to having been adopted become more complex.

I am thrilled that I wrote and published this e-guide, that it has received wonderful reviews and feedback, that it has sold and continues to sell well, and that it has become an international seller (uh huh! :)).  I also became certified to teach a program—Bringing Baby Home—through the Gottman Institute for new and expecting parents. We took Holden to college, pulling Josi, Aubry and Greyson from school so that we could help alleviate any potential triggers due to separation.

Aubry had her last tweenie birthday in September (difficult for me to believe…).  I presented on four well-received topics at two conferences, in Richmond, VA and Indianapolis, IN.  We began to understand just how tough was going to be with Holden away at college, even though we had Skype, Facebook, Twitter, texting, phones, and emails going constantly. There’s nothing like someone’s presence to alleviate that void.

The big guy (my hubby) celebrated his birthday in October. Holden came home for fall break and it was wonderful to have all of us together. I was very selfish with his time and I won’t apologize for that… (His friends did get plenty of him, too.)

Greyson hit, what we refer to in our home as, the “double-digits” in November.  He became ten. It was huge and wonderful and kinda sad. My baby, so “old.”  To bring awareness to adoption, I participated in The Adoption Interview Project. Thanksgiving was spent in quiet reflection about those who were not with us and gearing up for the coming holiday madness.

December brought the wonderful holiday, special traditions and many, many guests, including Holden’s young lady friend. We’ve eaten dozens of calorie-laden cookies baked by Josi, Aubry and myself as well as enjoyed hours upon hours of downtime, board games and movies.

We stand of the edge of 2011, wishing it farewell as we step forward and welcome 2012 with many friends and their families. Thank you, 2011—for the lessons and the gifts. For the ongoing love and support of family and friends. For replenishing this mama’s well when it has run dry. And for the stamina to do what I love—being a mother, wife, sister, friend, aunt, mentor, teacher, writer, and speaker.

                      ~ Photo (yes, blurry) taken by one of our silly kiddos

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Classes with Judy, Family, Family Celebrations, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting Your Adopted Child, The International Mom