Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Raising a daughter

Ways To Help Your Child Improve Their Self-Esteem by Charlie Baulm

Charlie Baulm is a researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling with addiction himself and finding sobriety, Charlie aims to discuss these issues with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with both. Follow him on Twitter! 

When your child has self-esteem issues, it’s not going to be as simple as a positive affirmation to solve the problem. Low self-esteem is defined as a condition when your child views himself or herself as inadequate or who can’t do anything right. This thought process is repeated until it permeates through the whole being. Unfortunately for us parents, we can unconsciously exacerbate the situation with our words and actions.

Many psychologists now are in agreement that low self-esteem is a disorder, much like body dysmorphia, which is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are quite similar to the whole alphabet soup of conditions. The problem is that low self-esteem is such an abstract concept to be treated, which contributes to the misdiagnosis.

What the Statistics Say About Low Self-Worth

According to a study commissioned by Park Nicollet Melrose Center and titled, “Teens, Social Media And Body Image,” 8 in 10 women are not satisfied with the way they look, while 7 in 10 who actually have normal weight want to become slimmer. More than 8 in 10 girls who are 10 years old have an unusual fear of becoming fat.

More than half of 13-year-old girls are not satisfied with their bodies. In fact, a typical 10- to 14-year-old girl today could already be on a diet. By the time they hit 17 years old, the number balloons to more than 7 in 10.

Children with low-esteem problems are vulnerable in the sense that they tend to go out of their way to please everybody. They can easily be manipulated this way.

 Tips in Helping Your Child With a Low Self-Esteem

Here are some ways to help your child:

      • Positive affirmation – Avoid negative words when talking to your child and comparing them with more accomplished siblings and friends. However, be realistic with your praises.
      • Get their input in the decision-making process – This is one way for your children to forge their identities. When they realize that their voices matter in the home, they become more confident about speaking up.
      • Encourage them to learn new things – It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture like learning ballet. Even riding a horse, kayaking, or painting the shed will be enough. The important thing is you are there with them.
      • Don’t box them in – We always think that our kids are the smartest and the most beautiful small persons ever. But don’t reward their effort by equating it with a certain quality (smart, genius, strong-willed, etc.). Let them have their own identity without your constant pressure.
      • Lead by example – You can talk a good game all you want, but your child will always look at your actions first. They observe more than you think they do. How do you deal with your body image? Do you use negative self-talk in front of them?
      • Let them make a mistake – This is another way they can develop their own identity. They have to make a mistake in order to learn from it and build on it going forward. They are going to make bad decisions sometimes, don’t reprimand them for it. Rather step back and ask them what they think is the best way to handle the situation.

Unfortunately, low self-esteem can lead to addiction. Young people turn to drugs and alcohol as an outlet when they are feeling down about themselves. Another study affirms this as it claimed that girls with a low self-worth tend to engage in harmful behaviors. There are rehab facilities that help your kids manage the substance dependence but in some cases, it can take a lifetime of follow through and counseling for your child.

As parents it is important to pay attention and listen not just to what your kids are saying but more importantly, to what they are not saying. Verbal cues are important, but many times it is the subtle signs of low self-esteem that are easier to spot. Many people who struggle with low self-esteem are not comfortable talking about their issues, even with their parents. Most importantly, continue to encourage your children and speak highly about them, let them know that they are just as capable as anyone else in terms of accomplishing their goals and building their own lives.

Share

Tips for Helping Your Children Deal with Divorce and Breakups

This article was contributed, but man, it is good. It hits home, and I especially like the paragraph that I highlighted with my Practical Moms Unite logo. Since my daughter did have to live through a divorce and my ex-husband and I share custody, I know how important and difficult the points in this post are! I hope it helps someone else, too. 

Sometimes relationships don’t work, and that’s part of life. However, when there are children involved, things can become messy and out of control faster than you’d like to think. It’s important to be able to create a relationship with your former spouse or partner, so that you can co-parent your children like you have been doing, but just not living together. Unfortunately, too many people don’t protect their children from the problems they are having within their relationships, and this can have a very negative effect on them. Co-parenting can be difficult, but children shouldn’t have to suffer through endless arguments between their parents. When all is said and done,  the only important thing is that they are healthy, happy, and thriving children. Here’s how you can get through the struggles of co-parenting, so your children can thrive.

If you were married to the co-parent, then things can become a little more difficult than if you weren’t because of divorce proceedings and dividing what you’ve built together in a fair way, so that there are no arguments. You will also have to check what rules there are with the best divorce lawyer so that both of you are clear on what should be done.

It’s also likely that when the time comes to tell your children that you are no longer going to be together, they will be upset. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way out of this, but there are ways in which you can break the news to them more gently and avoid them feeling like their whole world is falling apart. Here are some things that you can consider doing:

  • Rather than simply moving out or having your partner move out, prepare your children for the move first, so it’s not such a shock to wake up one morning and have one of their parents no longer living with them. It might be difficult for the two of you to be around each other, and that’s understandable, but it’s the kindest thing to do for the sake of your children.
  • Speaking to your children in an age-appropriate way about what’s happening before making any decisions or changes in their lives will make the whole process much more smooth for them as they will understand the changes they are experiencing.
  • It’s always best to explain that even though their parents aren’t together anymore, the love that you have for them won’t change and that they are the most important thing in both of your lives. This always seems like an obvious thing to say, but if left unsaid, it can leave your children feeling or wondering like any of this is their fault. Make sure they know that they haven’t done anything.

Obviously each family has their own problems, and dealing with something like a break up isn’t going to be the same for everyone.

The next thing that you will need to think about is the time they will spend with you vs the time they will spend with the co-parent. Come to an agreement that allows your children to know exactly when they are going to be with you, and when they are going to be with their other parent.

Letting your children have some decision making is always a good idea, so they don’t feel like they are losing all control. For example, when the transition of moving out is happening, allow your children to choose things to take to their other home You need to try and remember that it’s not just you and your ex dealing with the break up, it’s the children too, so if they need some comfort by taking a toy or comforter between each home then that shouldn’t be stopped.

Having to let your children go to their other parents’ home for a few days will be difficult! Since they were born, you may not have known a day without them. It will be heartbreaking to watch them as they go off happily, or if they don’t go off happily, that will hurt too. A great way to help diffuse the situation for both you and your children is to set up times where they can call you to tell you about their day or even something simple like saying good night.

Once you and your co-parent are no longer living together, decision making can become a tricky situation, especially if you are both disagreeing on something. Try to set up some sort of arrangement, where if there are decisions that involve your children to be made, you either meet or have a conversation on the phone. Many co-parents make the mistake of just making a decision without the other’s input, which then leads to arguments that could affect your children. On the other hand, there will be times where you disagree and you argue, but this should always be done in private, so your children don’t have to see their parents screaming and shouting at each other.

Relationship breakdowns are hard and are an emotional time for everyone that’s involved. Try to keep your composure, so you can make the transition as easy as possible for your children because at the end of it all they are the only ones that matter in all of this mess. Co-parenting is hard work; but if you both work with each other rather than against each other, you can make the process a little bit easier on everyone involved.

Share

Gambling On Granola: An Inspiring Memoir About Being a Single Mom and Starting a Business

I am happy to tell you about a great book that WOW! Women On Writing is currently hosting as a blog tour. I am a stop on the blog tour, and so below you will find out some information about the memoir, Gambling on Granola. But before you read this info below, I want to highlight a couple points that will be important to many of my practical parent and single parent readers out there.

Everyone of us who is a parent has this desire to make our children’s lives better than our own. We want to give them opportunities and experiences that we didn’t have. We want to love them fiercely and teach them to be great people. This desire led Fiona to create a company called Fiona’s Natural Foods, and her story shows us that determination, perseverance, love, and a fighting spirit can make anything possible.

Her website states that “Fiona took her mother’s recipe from the 1960’s, updated it, and created new flavors and ingredient combinations.  She hoped her new concoctions would be just the solution she had been seeking. “

​”The eponymous Fiona’s Natural Foods became a burgeoning regional natural foods brand, selling granola, quinoa cereal and energy bars to dozens of natural grocers — including Whole Foods and Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage — throughout Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah.” –Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Gambling On Granola. For those of you who have read some of my personal posts over the last two years, you know that I am also a single mom with a full-time job, a desire to be a successful writer with a part-time freelance editing business. I understand Fiona’s drive and fight, and I hope if you check out her book, you will be inspired by her also.

  About the Book:

In Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship by Fiona Simon, Simon shares a tale that is uplifting and inspiring but also raw and honest. This is a business memoir but also a love story―the love for her daughter, of a journey in uncharted waters, of the products and company she created, and of the continued challenge to follow her dream.

We see her growth and healing over fifteen years, as mistakes, weaknesses, and naiveté, evolve into resilience, resolve, and inspiration. For Fiona, it started out as all new businesses do―with an idea. But her world quickly became more complex as she established her company, developed new product lines, forged personal relationships in a competitive environment, grew her business, and held onto her deepest values―all while raising her daughter, Natalie, as a single mom.

Praise:

“Fiona’s story is both personal and transformative. She lays bare the hopes and anxieties, challenges, betrayals and lessons learned in creating her own business. From the mountaintops of a solar observatory where she was raised, to the struggles and triumphs, her story is like a path of granola crumbs leading the reader to understand how to succeed at any enterprise.”
– Jeff Kline, M.A. Ed., Chairman, Hispanic Communications Network, Washington, DC.

“Fiona Simon is an engaging storyteller and her narrative moves right along. It should inspire and motivate anyone who needs to remember the importance of persistence, belief in oneself, and vision in pursuing a goal. Her granola is good and so is her book.”
– Bob McCormick, Publisher, Editor, Author

Paperback: 200 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1938288920
ISBN-13: 978-1938288920

About the Author:

Fiona Maria Simon is a former journalist, travel writer, editor, and communications director of the Boulder, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce. She is passionate about developing healthy food products, writing, traveling the world, and inspiring and empowering others with her story. Lured by the adventures of entrepreneurship, she launched her own organic granola company and led it to success despite having no business background and simultaneously juggling the demands of being a single mom. Her book is a story of challenges, hardships, and triumphs, both personal and professional.

Find Fiona Online:

Website: http://www.fionamariasimon.com 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gambling-Granola-Unexpected-Gifts-Entrepreneurship/dp/1938288920/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494595882&sr=1-1&keywords=books+about+entrepreneurship

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34552773-gamblingon-granola?from_search=true 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fionamariasimon/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FionaMSimon

Share

The Worst Feeling As A Parent

Some things in life are very difficult. I’m sure every adult you know has some kind of difficulty whether it’s a relationship problem, financial concerns or health scares–problems and issues are all around us. I’ve had my share, but they don’t compare to what many of you have experienced or may be experiencing now. But the hardest thing for me is when my daughter has a problem and I can’t solve it.

Disclaimer: Before any of you get up in arms about this–I know I shouldn’t solve all her problems. She is only 6, but she has to learn to work through things and figure it out for herself (in a lot of cases), so she will learn to do this as she grows up. 

The problem my daughter and I are now facing is that the little girl who she considers to be her best friend, her grandparents’ neighbor, her playmate three or more times a week has MOVED TO FLORIDA. Naturally, KT is very upset. She has been crying off and on, and I have been encouraging her to talk about it. I’ve been trying to use skills I’ve learned at Kids in the Middle, where feelings need to be validated and worked through–not ignored and pushed under the rug.

I told her there is nothing she can do about this but feel the sadness and talk about it if she feels like it. I’ve left out the part that she will probably never see this little girl again. She might not even remember her very well in a couple of years because right now, this missing her friend already feels all consuming to KT. I think that “wisdom” would actually make it worse. We’ve talked about the things KT could do at Grandma’s house to pass the time and how sometimes, when you feel sad, it really is okay just to sit and watch TV and relax for a while.  That was the end of my wisdom. My heart breaks for her because she is so sad, and there really is nothing to fix this.

Of course, this made me reflect on my own friendships throughout the years. Social media makes it easy to “keep in touch” with people nowadays, but there are some people who I loved dearly that I am not in touch with anymore (whether it’s because they aren’t on social media or I haven’t found them or they don’t want to be in touch) or who have actually passed away. And there is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can do but feel the sadness and work through it, maybe write about it, maybe just sit and watch TV and relax for a while.

The worst to me as an adult is when you have a good friend and you are having a conflict and you are out of touch, whether it’s agreed upon or not. It’s sad. And you miss this person, but what can you do? You just have to work through the sadness and hope one day you both can figure it out.

So for now, that’s what KT and I are going to do. The good thing is KT is busy at cheerleading camp this week, and she told me that she doesn’t even think about it when she is there, and I see that as a positive life lesson she’s learning. And I will follow in her footsteps.

Share

MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 1 to 5

I am in MOPS–Mothers of Preschoolers, and I recommend if you are a stay-at-home mom or part-time working mom of children under 1st grade, FIND YOURSELF A GROUP NOW. These women have become some of my best friends and have been with me through thick and thin. Through the divorce and surgeries, they have helped me with Katie, provided support with cards and messages, organized two meal trains, and paid for lawn service for an entire spring/summer/fall. I don’t need to explain more, right? I love them! But that’s not what this post is about.

This year, MOPS has a 28-day challenge to do either a TRUTH OR DARE each day, and then work toward a BIG THING. I’m still not sure what my BIG THING will be. I thought running a 5K, but I’m not sure training for that in February is the best idea; so I’m still on the fence with my BIG THING. But I am going to do this challenge; and like everything, I am behind.  This post is for days 1 to 5. On Monday, days 6 to 10 will post. Then I will hopefully post 11 to 14 on Tuesday ,and will be caught up along with knowing more what my BIG THING might be. I also have been mulling around going on a short trip with Katie, so maybe my BIG THING will be actually taking the plunge and planning it during spring break. So far, I’ve just talked about it.

So let’s get to it:

Day 1: Swell Seasons: In what ways do you feel out of control in your life?

Answer: In what ways, don’t I? Ha! I think the biggest ways I feel out of control in my life are the demands of single parenting and my time management and amount of daily energy. It all boils down to priorities. Since I have a full-time job and a child and relationships with other human beings, then I need to prioritize what is important to me and what goals I want to accomplish on a daily basis. If I don’t and I waste a lot of time on something like arguing politics on Facebook, I feel out of sync, out of control, because time is precious. More and more, I realize how little of it I actually have.  And how I want to be choosy where and with who I spend it. It’s all about balance, and I still struggle with that on a daily basis.

Day 2: Blessings in the Night: What is your favorite thing that has happened in the dark?

Answer: That’s a loaded question, huh? I really had to think about this one because I am much more of a morning/afternoon/early evening person, than a night-time owl; and so I decided to just look back over this past year, and be very literal about this question. My favorite thing that happens on a regular basis in the dark is my 6-year-old daughter’s night time routine, complete with reading (and now sometimes she is reading to me!) and snuggling. I always tell her it is my favorite part of the day, and I am being serious. It is peaceful and sweet and calming–so much so that I often fall asleep myself. . .oops!

Day 3: Becoming Our Mothers: What are two things you hope your kids will talk about as adults when they describe their memories of you?

Answer: I want her to talk about how much fun we had on a daily basis, using our imaginations (the stuffed animals all have voices and talk a lot; my fingers are actually tickle bugs;  the gremlins come if we don’t get dressed by 9am) and how in our home, there was a lot of singing, dancing, and laughing. I also hope she remembers the little life lessons I am trying to teach her, such as being kind, entertaining yourself, not always thinking of yourself, work before play, and remembering to say I love you to people you love.

Day 4:  Sister Courage: What do you value most in a friend? Are you that kind of friend?

Answer: I value kindness the most in a friend. I want someone with a kind heart and a positive attitude. They don’t have to always be up, of course, and I am willing to listen to anyone about anything; but I hope that when they are looking at the world, they are doing it with kindness and optimism because that definitely wears off on me. I think I am pretty kind and optimistic. Sometimes, with some friends, I can be more opinionated than others, and I probably need to do a bit more active listening.

Day 5: Dear Fifteen: What do you need to give yourself permission to feel? What hurts are waiting to be seen and healed?

Answer: This is going to sound crazy, but I need to give myself permission to feel happiness. I will not feel guilty because I also feel happy. I know it sounds crazy, but I think divorce or any really hard life struggle does this to you. It is almost like you are scared to feel happiness because you’re always waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. I have worked through a lot of hurt over my adult life, so I don’t feel like I have any deep, buried issues that are waiting to come out. They have all been pouring out and now I am looking to find peace.
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments! 🙂 You don’t have to be a MOPS member to do so. . .

 

 

Share

5 Things I Learned About Living in 2016

1. Life is a work in progress. I’m the kind of person who wants to fix everything right now. This is an impossible and exhausting way to live for two reasons. First, the only person I can control is myself; therefore, if the thing in my life that’s wrong involves another person, I can only do so much to fix the problem. Secondly there are only so many hours in the day, and part of those must be spent taking care of essential needs: since I am a parent, I must provide a home, food, and care for my daughter as well as myself. So a good portion of my time goes toward this. Therefore, the other things I want to do in my life take a backseat sometimes, and that is okay and normal. Everything does not have to happen RIGHT NOW.

2. Listen more. Speak less. I’m still working on this one. But I realized this about myself this year, with help from a very good friend–I often jump to conclusions and speak my mind before I have all the facts. I am working on my listening skills and taking a deep breath before spurting out the wrong thing.

3. Give people a chance. After divorce, most people will tell you it is hard to trust. No matter how bad the marriage was or who initiated the divorce, you were a part of a couple for a while (sometimes a long while) and now you are out on your own. While dating, I have learned that most people in a similar situation as myself are decent and also just trying to live their lives. This kind of fits with number two above, but I need to learn to not jump to conclusions and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

4. Being a parent is hard. Give myself a break. I miss my daughter terribly when she is away from me; but sometimes when she is with me, I don’t feel like I have time to think or process anything, and I am often exhausted. I worry about her constantly, and I am sometimes impatient. This seems to be similar to many other parents I know (single and married); and when I start to feel like “you are doing a terrible job–you should have done A, B, C,” I’m learning to take a deep breath and give myself a break. I love her more than anything, and I spend a good portion of my life being her mom. Every once in a while, I’m going to mess up and it’s okay.

5. Balance is key. To be the best person I can, I have to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, have fun with my daughter, read, write, work, have fun with my friends, and spend time with my parents. The key is to stay balanced. Don’t let any one area take all the time away from another. This is super hard, and again a work in progress; but I am doing better–especially the sleep. Do you know how important sleep is? 🙂

So what have you learned in 2016?

Share

Raising a Tall Daughter

I titled this post raising a TALL daughter, instead of just raising a daughter, because all of us raising a daughter know some characteristic people  bring attention to, possibly unaware they are doing this, that makes our daughters self-conscious. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Maybe your daughter is short. Maybe she is super smart. Maybe she talks fast. These are all characteristics that people consider okay to comment on.

We also know bullies like to draw attention to personal traits in a negative way, such as being overweight, wearing glasses, or not knowing the answers in class. We think this is horrible, and we fight the good fight against these kind of comments, whether in person, in writing, or online. But do we realize, as adults, that we are constantly bombarding  our kids with messages about their body or their intelligence? And this is not always raising their self-esteem. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Let me tell you what inspired this post.

Katie started cheerleading (she is 6). The wonderfully nice coach said, “I’m going to line you guys up by height, so we can figure out a good formation for our dance.” She told everyone to get in line, and I immediately saw Katie slouch down as much as possible, so she wouldn’t be the tallest one. The next words that came out of the mouth of the short, innocent girl next to her were: “Well, she (pointing at Katie) is the tallest one.”  I had to step in.

I said, “Katie, stand up straight. It’s awesome to be the tallest one. Mommy is always the tallest one.” The coach then chimed in with similar praises, and Katie smiled and stood up straight.

I probably don’t need to go on and on about this story for you to see why it bothered me. But…I am a writer, so I will say this: Before anyone even said she was the tallest one, she knew it was going to be her and she didn’t want it to be her. She is only 6! I remember feeling the same way when I was young.

Is part of that because we innately want to be the same as everyone else? Probably. But a large part of her slouching is because so many people, young and old, are constantly telling her how tall she is and how much older she looks and sounds.

Because I have this blog, I can say: Please stop.

You can only control you, as I said in my last post, but you can stop talking about how short or tall some child is and asking your family to do the same.

fall_dill_007Look, I am as guilty as the next person for drawing attention to my daughter’s height.  My way of coping with this, my wrong way, is to say: “I know. She is really tall,” before the person gets a chance to say it. And I know what several of you reading this are thinking: I wish I was tall. Being tall is great.

And you’re right, it is. But it took me 19-20 years to think this; and sometimes, on bad days, I still don’t think so. She and I can’t control this. We can’t go on a diet to get shorter. We can’t read a book to get shorter. We can’t practice to get shorter.

We are tall. We need to be proud of it. But we don’t need to be constantly reminded of it. 

Share