Q: I am a young parent and I have a 3-year-old. This is my first child. I am sure every parent feels this way from time to time. I have so many people telling me to do this and to do that. I should do it this way or their way is the best. I feel overwhelmed and lost at times, especially when it comes to discipline. How do I find the best ways to discipline and parent my child without asking Google?
A: Interesting question. This is a hard question to answer. I can tell you that I do not have the perfect answer to your question, but I can tell you what I would do. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to raising kids. There are certain methods that work on some children, but they don’t work for others. You know your child. You are the expert on your own child. However, there are times that we, as parents, hit a wall and we need advice. We need to mix it up and try something different. I can tell you that many times local schools will offer parenting classes with wonderful and helpful information. Friends and family can be another great source of information. Just because someone says this way is the best does not necessarily mean that is true. It might be the best for their particular child, but not all. I do feel like there is a great amount of good information on the internet to help you with discipline options. I would caution you to make sure that the information that you are reading is from a reputable and reliable source. I think a good piece of advice when it comes to looking for parenting information is to take in what you read like a cafeteria menu. Try different techniques and see what works for your child. Pick and choose strategies. You don’t have to do it exactly like they say. Alter it to meet your child’s needs. Lastly, I think it is really important that we support each other as parents. We need to not judge each other so much. Instead we should build each other up as parents. Parenting is the most difficult job most of us will ever do. So let us help each other with empathy and kindness instead of tearing each other down. I hope this gives you a little guidance in your journey as a mom! You got this!
Q: When it comes to talking to my child about death, I don’t know what to say. She is in second grade and she heard about the school shooting and asked me if she was safe at school and what happened to those kids. I can’t wrap my own mind around it much less be able to explain it her. I talked to her already but just wondering what I can use in the future?
A: This is a tough topic for adults to come to terms with much less children. It is important to remember where your child is developmentally when talking about death. This will have to do with their age and what life experiences they may have already had with death. You do not want to speak above their level of understanding of the subject. Keep it very simple and basic. When talking about something like this I think it is important to stress that safety is the number one priority of their school. The job of the school is to keep the students safe at all times. You can talk about how we do lockdowns and drills at school to always be prepared in an emergency. When it comes to talking about a school shooting, I do not know that there is anything we can say that will make sense of what has occurred. We can say that the person who did this was not in their right mind. You can also say that is a rare event. I try to tell my own child that it is better to be prepared than think nothing like this ever happens. When tragedy like Marshall County does occur, we will never be able to make sense of it, but hopefully we can learn something that will help us prevent it in the future. After talking to your child, I think it is important to ask them if they have any questions. If they ask you a question that you are not prepared to answer or you simply don’t know, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them that you do not know but you will do your best to find out for them.
Q: My 5-year-old son has asked me about the e-cigs. He wants to know what they are and why people can smoke in stores. We do not smoke and I have always taught him that was smoking was bad for you. If feels strange to tell him it is OK for people to do this. What would you say?
A: Wow! I have never thought of this question before. However, you certainly bring up a good topic. I do not necessarily know that there is a right or wrong answer to this. I think the correct response is going to be what you personally believe. Of course, someone that smoked would have an entirely different response than you. It is easy to see how this device would intrigue a 5-year-old. It is electronic, some light up and then the person blows out a large cloud of vapor. Children are not used to seeing that, especially in stores and other public places. He would probably be too young to understand that the device still gives a person nicotine, which is an addictive substance. I think I would treat it the same way I would a cigarette and say it is not healthy for you. You can tell him it is not good for your lungs. If someone has an e-cig, they can smoke inside some places because it is really just water/vapor that they blow out. Try not to make it too complicated. You need to consider his developmental understanding. I would focus on your family beliefs. I would also add that we do not know why people do some of the stuff they do, but you hope he will always make healthy choices in life.