Dear Husband, Do You Still Love Me?

Dear husband, it’s been 9 years and 6 months that we’ve been married. A lot has changed, and I have changed a lot. I am no longer the person you fell in love with. Do you still love me? 

Dear wife, it’s been 9 years and 6 months that I get to see you grow into the person that you are today. A lot has changed, but you’re still my wife. I’m glad that hasn’t changed.  

Dear husband, I’m sorry I haven’t been holding your hand a lot lately. 

Dear wife, thank you for always holding onto our children and making them feel they’re in the safest place in the world. 

Dear husband, do you mind that there has been more take-outs and less home-cooked meals recently?

Dear wife, it’s not what I eat that matters but who I get to eat with. Thank you for always waiting to eat with me.

Dear husband, what do you think of my flabby tummy?

Dear wife, does it matter what I think? I want you to love yourself regardless. And for the record, I adore that tummy. It’s gone through so much to bring happiness (babies) into our lives. 

Dear husband, it’s not beautiful when you see me yell at the kids, is it? 

Dear wife, you’re not a saint. You’re human. And no human can tolerate our kids every single time.

Dear husband, I snap at you sometimes. I never did that when we were still dating.

Dear wife, we live together, we’re bound to show our childish sides and our flaws. I married you for all the good and the bad in you, not only the good. 

Dear husband, I admittedly spend more time on my phone than with you. Are you mad at me?

Dear wife, I do wish we would spend more time together. But when you need to be alone, I respect that need. 

Dear husband, regarding the decline in business in bed…

Hm……

Dear husband, do you still love me?

Dearest wife, I still love you and will love you forever although I do hope the business in bed could get better.

Dear husband, we shall talk about that during our 20th anniversary.

?????!!!!!

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The Reasons Your Tween Gets Very Moody

I have an 8-year-old, I don’t know if he counts as being a tween but I do feel that he is definitely slowly turning into a breed I haven’t encountered before. There are loads and loads of mention of the baby years, toddler years and pre-schooling years out there so parents like you and I more or less know what to expect while we raise our little human beings. But there’s very little mention of the tween years i.e. 8-12 years old. I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t think I understand what they’re all about, their inner thoughts, how they relate to us parents and what their expectations are.

I’ve been noticing some changes in my eldest son these past few months and I realise that sometimes I don’t understand him and he might actually feel that i don’t get him. That almost makes me feel like I’ve failed as his mother.

So what are some of the transformations that I’ve noticed in my beginner tween?

  • a decreased interest in toys
    – he finds train tracks, LEGO, blocks, etc boring.
    – he rarely joins us in board games like Monopoly, card games, etc
  • ability to spend time alone at longer stretches of time (e.g. read, etc)
  • being genuinely caring towards his younger siblings (sometimes)
  • it takes more for them to agree with our points or listen to us
  • gradually playing more with friends than with parents
    – but he does still love it when we play catch with him and his brothers
  • moody

Oh man, that word – moody – I don’t even know where to start. To give him some credit, it doesn’t happen all day long, but he does get moody, something that wasn’t in his personality prior to his tween year. Sometimes I ask myself if he’s depressed. I try to look for signs of depression in him, like was he sad, withdrawn, did he have a loss in appetite, etc. Whereas he does have problems staying asleep throughout the night, which has been in him since he was young, he does not express other signs of depression. So his mood swings must have other origins?

Read more: What makes a happy child?

It’s been in my mind for a few months now, thinking about what I did wrong that made my sweet angel so easily moody. So I finally came to some conclusion:

1. It’s a Cry for More Love
You know how it is. We have unlimited love but we have limited energy and time. So when our kids are independent, we let them be. We focus on the littler ones who still need us to do everyday things. But along the way, we forget that our bigger kids also need us. They no longer need us to tie their shoelaces, give them a shower or pour their cereal. But they need us on another level now. And most parents fail to realise that. They need us to be emotionally available. They need us to show that we still love them despite not spending all our waking hours helping them do daily tasks anymore. They need us to give them surprise hugs, tell them how much we love them, ask them about their favourite computer games instead of just asking whether they have completed their homework. They need to feel loved in a different way. It’s no longer about keeping them fed and clothed but more about recognising the individual they’re becoming.

2. It’s Partly Hormonal
I guess this is the only thing about the tween years that almost all of us have heard about. Hormonal changes contribute to the mood swings and emotional sensitivity during these years and into the early teens. One minute your tween is mild and courteous, the next he seems frustrated and upset over something so insignificant (to you).

Hormones – while it is a very valid point from a  biological point of view, we can’t let it be an excuse for ourselves to let our children act out. We can allow them to have their mood swings but we still need to let them know that it is not acceptable behaviour to talk back, roll their eyes or argue with an adult. If unaddressed, it could become part of their personality as they move onto their teenage years and adulthood.

3. And Partly Attitude
You know how they think they’re no longer babies. They feel that they know more now, that they understand the world a lot better, that we’re not right all the time. This kind of realisation could make them think too highly of themselves. They might even think they’re smarter than us in certain aspects. It’s them trying to show to us that they are smarter and bigger now. They show frustration when they realise we’re the right one. They show frustration when we don’t agree with them. It is our job to teach them to have patience when relating to the people around them, that not everyone can think in the same way they think.

4. Your Tween Is Equally as Clueless as You Are, If Not More
And finally, I’m sure our tweens do not feel good showing their attitude or mood swings. But they can’t control themselves well enough to prevent it from happening in the first place, much like toddlers and their tantrums. Except this time they know how to regret their words and actions. When that happens, they get even angrier that they had acted in a certain way or that why we even allowed things to escalate.

It is difficult to understand how your daughter can discuss world politics with you one moment and have a full blown tantrum the next because you won’t allow her to have ice cream for lunch. Perhaps your son seems socially savvy, engaging in conversations with adults like a pro, “then why”, you wonder, “does he struggle to get his homework completed on time and/or prepare his own school bag?”

Our tweens are still growing and finding themselves. They’re still learning how to be a human being in today’s society and culture. Give them more love, guide them and most importantly, give them some time to find their way.

Till next week,

Lili is a wife and a mum to 3 boys. An aspiring writer. Adores creativity, art and beautiful creations. Dog lover. Gentle-parenting follower. Follow her parenting journey at http://www.happywehappyfamily.com where she writes about family happiness and how to stay connected to our spouse and kids.

22 Things To Do Without Technology & Screens

I realise that when my kids get to spend too much time on the screen in one day, for the rest of the day I will hear “I’m bored, I don’t know what to do, I want screen…” That really frustrates me. First, why did I let them spend so much time on the screen to the point that they can’t find fun other ways? Second, it’s hard not to cave in and give them even more screen-time just so they could stop bothering me!

Well, here’s a list of things we could do as a family without involving the use of screens! Yes, there’s still hope you guys…

Outdoor:

1. Go to a new neighbourhood and get to as many playgrounds as possible within a 1-kilometre radius

2. Weekly family bike ride

3. Climb a tree

4. Play elastics

5. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds

6. Play catch

7. Kick ball

8. Treasure Hunt

9. Create a chalkboard mural on the pavement

10. Hide and seek

11. Bring your family on a monthly clean-up around your neighbourhood

12. Picnic at home. The convenience of being just a few metres away from the kitchen!

Indoor:

13. Practice some card tricks

14. Family dance night

15. Play hand-clap games

16. Draw

17. Colour

18. Write a silly poem

19. Hide items for others to find

20. Do a puzzle

21. Look through old family photos and videos together

22. Rearrange your house and discard/donate some items

Do you have any favourite screen-free activity to share? Add to the list, comment below!

Helping Your Child With Their Homework Might Do More Harm

Do you help your children with their homework?

Well today I’ll surprise you by sharing with you that Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found out that not all types of homework assistance lead to equally positive outcomes.

Wait what? Are they saying that a parent that helps their child with homework might unknowingly produce a negative outcome? But how?

Well, as research goes, there are two types of homework assistance provided by parents. One is whereby parents offer more opportunities for the child to do more autonomous work and the other is where parents provided assistance by concretely helping the child.

It turns out that the group of parents that offer opportunities for autonomous work make children who are more persistent. In large because parents also send out a message that they believe in the child’s skills and abilities. This in turn makes the child believe in him or herself and their skill and capability.

Similarly, concrete homework assistance, especially if not requested by the child, may send out a message that the parent doesn’t believe in the child’s ability to do his or her homework. The child lacks self belief and becomes less persistent overtime, in turn needing more and more help from parents.

So it is important for us parents to take the child’s needs into consideration when offering homework assistance. Concrete help is not something that should be made automatically available in every situation – only when needed.

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180508102151.htm

When Should Kids Get Their First Phone?

“But mummy, some of my classmates already have their own phone” *cue whiny sound by my 2nd-grader* 

He’s made friends with children from the neighbourhood, some of whom are 4th and 5th graders. They play games like Roblox and Rules of Survival. These are games which I personally feel are not meant for 1st and 2nd graders at all. But unfortunately, because of peer influence, both my 2nd and 1st graders are in fact playing (and are addicted to) these games.

My 4-year-old on the other hand, has shifted his addiction from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Youtube episodes to Slither.io (some snake game). The addiction to screen time in our house is getting out of hand and it often ends up in meltdowns and children blaming us parents for their bad mood.

I mean, why do we still let them have screen time if we know it always ends up with 3 cranky tearful boys? I can’t answer that question myself.

And mind you, they are using our devices. They don’t have their own devices yet. And at this point, they clearly cannot keep to the agreed screen time (30 minutes each time, twice a week) without some form of unhappiness when they have to give back their devices.

I have 2 big questions that I’m still searching some answers to.

  1. Should I still let my children have screen time? And why?
  2. When should they have their own phones?

These are questions that modern parents are grappling with, without any definite answer. To each his own.

What are the reasons we (i.e. my husband and I) want our children to have screen time?

  • We feel that the world is evolving. We can’t run away from screens and the penetration it has and will have in our children’s lives. We don’t want to “deprive” our children of things that other children have access to.
  • We ourselves use screen a lot at home, whether it be for checking emails, browsing social media or just surfing the net. It would be hypocritical of us to prohibit our children from using screens while we can hardly pull our own eyes away from our own devices.
  • A little leisure time on the screen won’t hurt, or so we thought.
  • If they are able to keep screen time within the limits we set, we feel it is alright.

What are some of the challenges we face when we allow our children to have screen time?

  • While we do not mind them playing games, we would also like them to go to websites to read articles for general knowledge or watch educational videos for kids. But every time they get their hands on the screen, it’s always games games games. Even when we suggest they visit certain kids website (which are fun, mind you), they expressed no interest whatsoever.
  • As mentioned above, the games they like to play might not be suitable for their age. The content, the people in the game who might be adults using foul language in the game chat, etc. These are the things that concern us.

  • The addiction they have towards screen time and the negative effect it has on their creativity and the reduction in the ability to regulate their emotions is worrisome. They feel bored more easily and often ask for screen even though they know it is not their screen day. (We only let them use screen twice a week and 30 minutes each time). But they will whine for the screen all week round and say they’re bored and that nothing else is fun. That is so sad. Just sad.

Why do kids enjoy screen time so much?

  • Games are purposely designed by their developers to be addictive so that players return to the game again and again and find it hard to stop playing. This is so that they can make more money from in-app purchases or in-game advertisements. Our children fall victim to the nature of the games.

  • It’s one of the easiest and fastest way to have fun. They don’t even need a friend. They just need a device in their hands.
  • They like the challenges they have to tackle in the online games and truth be told, it’s not easy to find that kind of challenge in real life. So kids these days turn to games to try things out fearlessly.
  • My boys get excited to play their games because they make appointments, yes they do – i’m not joking, with their friends to be online at a certain time, in a certain game and on a certain server so they can play together. I mean, these kids are all in their own rooms yet they are “playing” together. They don’t need to wait for mom and dad to ferry them to a friend’s house in order to play together.

So, having touched on the above points, when should they have their own phones? 

It’s not an easy question to answer. There are a lot of questions running through my mind even before I can answer that question.

  1. Are they mature enough to regulate their own phone usage and spend only an appropriate amount of time on the screen?
  2. At what age am I comfortable for them to have access to an ocean of crazy information and videos out there?
    1. Information that is not true,
    2. information that is totally useless,
    3. information that is too traumatising,
    4. information that is not age-appropriate,
    5. how about cyber-bullies? When will they be mature enough to handle the negative emotional reactions that come with being bullied online?
  3. If I wait too long to give them their phone, how do I contact them when I need to? Perhaps, a simple nokia 3310 will do the trick.
  4. But if I wait too long to give them their own smartphone, how do they stay in touch with their peers when they have no access to social media or WhatsApp? Will they feel left out? Will they be at a disadvantage when it comes to making friends?

The obvious answer to one question may contradict the answer for another question. That’s why it is so hard for most parents to come to a decision when it comes to screen time and when to give their children the autonomy of owning their own phone. To each his own.

For me, at this point, here is my stand (but it may change as our family evolves):

  • I would want my children to have minimum screen time per week (desirably less than 3 hours per week as long as they are under 11 years old) as I really believe in the benefits of spending time outside, exploring creativity and art, reading or just simply being bored.
  • To think that my children can have access to the things we can find on the Internet scares me. I mean, I had full access to the Internet approximately when around 16-17 years old. I believe I was mature enough to know right from wrong (although not 100% so), what information I should seek, what I should trust or ignore online. I can’t imagine my children having these abilities at a younger age. It would be horrifying for a 10-year-old to watch videos about UFO sightings, alien presence, the Earth is flat theory and all sort of bullshit (pardon my language). What would become of their knowledge? It would be so messed up. They won’t know what’s fact or fiction. It would be terrifying just to think about it. This might be the main reason I will prolong giving them their first phone.
  • But what about their social life? This is tough. No-one wants their child to feel left out. And these days social media form a big part of kids and teenagers’ lives. They literally “live” in social media. They interact through text messages, see each other on instagram and snapchat. What happens if my boys do not have access to any of these? Will they have friends? I don’t know my stand on this. It’s a tough decision.

Where do you stand as a parent? I would like to hear your opinion on this matter. Are you less worried? Or do you belong to the group that is deeply concerned? Let me know in the comments section 🙂 I’ll be looking forward to reading all your comments.

Till next week,

Lili is a wife and a mum to 3 boys. An aspiring writer. Adores creativity, art and beautiful creations. Dog lover. Gentle-parenting follower. Follow her parenting journey at http://www.happywehappyfamily.com where she writes about family happiness and how to stay connected to our spouse and kids.


For further reading you can read the following articles:

It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

Dopamine: the cause of digital addiction?

3 Basic Principles of Positive Parenting

What exactly is positive parenting and is it a “better” approach to parenting? Let’s explore this touchy topic together.

In the past few days, a video of a boy being punished by his father for getting kicked out of his school bus went viral, accumulated more than 2 million views and has since sparked quite a conversation in the parenting community.

If you missed the video, watch it here.

Now that you’ve watched it. I can only assume you had one of these 2 most common emotions: you either belong to the group that applaud the dad for doing it right, or belong to the group that thinks he went too far.

I’m not here to judge you for your stand. I’m not here to judge him for his action. Neither am I here to take a stand. There is no ONE RIGHT WAY to parent. What’s good for one family may not be good for another, but it doesn’t make it a “bad” way. Despite having different approaches to parenting, we all parent well but we also screw up often. That’s the reality of being parents. So there’s no judging here.

But since we’re on the topic of parenting and disciplining, I thought I should address the group of parents that want to take the road of positive parenting. The big question is always:

What makes positive parenting?

Positive Parenting or Positive Discipline focuses on the positive points of behaviour, based on the idea that there are no bad children, just good and bad behaviours. We can teach and reinforce the good behaviours while weaning the bad behaviours without hurting the child verbally or physically.

Parents and educators engaging in positive discipline are not ignoring problems. Rather, they are actively involved in helping their child learn how to handle situations more appropriately while remaining calm, friendly and respectful to the children themselves.

So in the case of this child who was purportedly being punished for being a “bully”, the father did not hurt the child physically or verbally, it could also be argued that it was a calm and friendly approach. Respectful? I would say if he didn’t film the incident and share with the world, he would have ticked the box. But since he shared with the world, i’m a little bit cautious as not to say that what he did was respectful to his child. Nevertheless, not everybody follows positive parenting, and like i’ve said, there is no better way of parenting.

However, if you want to go on the path of positive parenting, following what this dad did wouldn’t have been parked as positive parenting. Why? Because there are 3 principles of positive parenting that makes it positive:

Treating Our Children With Respect

Positive Parenting followers want to go positive because we respect the little human beings under our care. Their feelings and self-esteem matter to us. We aspire to treat them with the same respect that we give to the adults in our lives, whenever possible.

Respecting your child while disciplining him is a positive thing because it shows to your child that he’s still worthy of good attention despite his bad behaviour.

Respecting your child is positive because we are showing him how to handle difficult people respectfully. He will learn and treat his friends and colleagues with respect.

Respecting your child while disciplining him is positive because it makes him feel that he is more important than the problem he has created.

Helping Our Kids Understand Why

Another basic principle of positive parenting is that we usually focus on why a child misbehaves rather than focusing on correcting his behaviour just because it’s wrong. We help children understand why what they are doing is wrong, and provide them with the skill to seek alternative ways to cope or deal with a problem. We teach them what is right and what is wrong through communication and explanation and not through punishment or threats.

Punishments just helps the kids avoid certain behaviours in order to escape punishment but without really knowing why he is not allowed to behave in certain ways.

Helping our kids understand why is positive because they get to learn what exactly is not right or appreciated about their behaviour. So next time they will internalise that certain behaviours are not desirable because of something.

Not Giving Up When It Doesn’t Work

I have to confess that positive parenting is not an easy path. I have been tempted to divert and just be authoritarian, especially in the heat of a home crisis. I admit that I hadn’t been positive 100% of the time. Positive parenting is hard, tough work. But what makes it so special is because we are determined to make it positive. We are determined to do our best to use positive discipline on our children.

So not giving up when it doesn’t work, is what makes it positive. We still believe in this parenting approach and we are still relying on it, regardless.


Having said all this, I want to reiterate that I’m not here to take a stand or to judge any parent. I’m here to explain what positive parenting is and if you want to go on this path, these are the 3 principles that you can follow.

Have a great day!

Responsible Parenting: Create Memories, Not Expectations

“The paradox is that more than anything in our lives we want our children to be happy. We fear judgement, we fear disappointment, we fear failure so much that we have become constantly worried and stressed as parents…”

“Without noticing, we transfer all these expectations that we have on our children.”

“It takes guts to be acceptive of who your child is, to be at peace, to let go.” 

This article is going to revolve around the TEDx Talk by Austeja Landsbergiene, and the words above are spoken during her talk. She spoke to my heart. She woke me up. Most importantly, she opened my eyes to see what I should stop doing to avoid being the parent I do not wish to be.

Sometimes we think we know what we want for our children, but it’s very difficult to know for sure how we are supposed to parent in order to give our children what they need.

It’s a complex question that all of us parents are still learning every day to find the perfect answer to, which I believe is impossible by the way. There is no perfect way to parent your children. But there’s a way that will ensure we raise secure and happy children.

As parents, we do many things because we are concerned and conscious of what others will think of us. But we have to ask ourselves the following questions:

“What kind of memories do I want to create for my child, at home, in school and everywhere?

Is our parenting founded on kindness and generosity?

Is our parenting founded on criticism and hostility?

What is our habit of mind?

What are we looking for?

Are we looking at the things that we can appreciate? Or are we looking for mistakes?”

When we tell our children to stay home and study hard instead of allowing them to go watch their favourite basketball match, whose expectations are we trying to meet? It is our expectation that our children do well in their studies, but it is the kids’ expectation to watch that basketball match.

Austeja Landsbergiene suggests that we parent out of kindness. And everything will follow suit.

Kindness makes our children feel loved.