Parenting: What I practice and believe in

I saw a post on a social media thread where someone asked, “what bad traits of yours do your children have?”

My response was: None. My kids have grown up to be the kind of people I wanted to be.

The person who asked the question responded, “Lucky you.”

Luck has nothing to do with it. Yes, I understand the whole nature versus nurture argument. Let’s put that aside for a moment.

We are all born with certain personality traits. We all learn certain personality and behavior traits. It isn’t a free for all. If you’re a hot mess it doesn’t mean your kids will be hot messes. If you made terrible mistakes in your youth it doesn’t mean your children will. If you hated your parents it doesn’t mean your kids will hate you.

Like I said, luck had nothing to do with the way my kids turned out. The only lucky thing they got was good looks.

What makes a successful parent? It is easy.

  1. Learn from your mistakes and teach your kids by it.
  2. Talk to your kids from the day they are born. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don’t take grunts and one word answers to questions. Engage with your children.
  3. Show interest in your kids. I know you’re tired. I know you’ve been working. I know. I’ve been there. Show interest in them. By showing interest you will also be helping yourself. Think about it.
  4. Remember that your children are going to grow up to become adults. Prepare them for the adult world. Have those hard conversations.
  5. Trust your children. Give them reason to trust you as well.
  6. Teach them the difference between right and wrong. Not for any BS religious reason but because it is the right to do.
  7. Teach your children compassion and empathy.
  8. Teach them that yes indeed, they ARE judged by the company they keep.
  9. Teach them to be proud of who they are.
  10. Teach them to be curious and that learning is something they will do their entire lives.
  11. Teach them to be polite and to never be rude, especially when they are a guest. If they are pleasant they will always be invited back. Be better away from home than you ever are at home.
  12. Love them and put them first. Always put your children first. They need you. They depend on you. They love you. They can’t function without you. They need your guidance, your thoughts, your ear. Most of all they need your hugs.

Every child is different. Some are loud. Some are quite. Some seem too perfect (that can be scary) and some seem to make a mess of everything. Every family is also different, from the huge families with a dozen children to the family with a single child – and each child is unique. Every child has the potential to grow up and be happy and successful.

The following paragraphs are more or less what I put in my list but read it again.

 

Parenting – Why it is important and what I believe and practice.

My main message is for parents to talk not just at or to their kids but WITH their kids. Also to give your children the safety to be their own little personalities (or big personalities) and to be kids, but also give them the freedom to grow and fly. I am a strong advocate against over protecting children. I’m a mother wolf and yes, I’ll protect to the death, but I don’t want to be responsible for an immature, over sensitive, ignorant adult one of these days. Children, in my opinion, need their parents forever, but they also need to know about the world they’ll live most of their lives in, especially teens. They also need to know the harsh facts about sex, drugs and the company they keep. Our reputations and the choices we make as teens can stay with us our entire lives. Teens need to know this.

I absolutely love teens. They’re funny and wise and silly and so loving in ways that most people don’t even see. Just talk to one, or better yet, try to remember a million years ago in another time, another world, another planet, when you were a teen.

But I’m not going to preach those ideas in every single blog post. Through my tales about my kids, my husband, my brothers and my friends, I try to get across my messages about relationships, love, consequences, and just life. And if I can get someone to think or laugh I feel like I’ve done something. If I can get anyone to laugh I’m happy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Deliberate Parenting

The main message of this blog aside from don’t be a dick  is to be a deliberate parent.

Since 2012 I’ve been blogging about parenting. Now my children are grown and they’ve turned out to be amazing, capable, and independent adults. I am so proud of them. I am beyond the moon and back proud of them.

Please, if you’re parent read this, consider what I have to say, and if you like pass it on. Every family is different. Every child is different. But all children deserve parents who take them seriously.

 

Deliberate Parenting

Don’t parent with your eyes closed. Don’t wake up surprised one day when it is too late.

I raised my kids deliberately. I raised them not to be bully bait.

I raised them to be confident. I raised them to fly with their own wings and pursue their own interests.

I raised them to think.

I raised them to see the big picture.

I raised them not to be stupid or sheltered.

I raised them to question what they hear and see – even if they see and hear it from me.

I raised them to realize that one day they’ll have to make it on their own and that they’ll have to fight tooth and claw.

They know how to come to their own conclusions.

They know that reputation is everything.

They know that being fair and good and standing up for what is right and good is everything.

They’ll be far better people than I will ever be.

They aren’t perfect, but at least they have a chance.

I don’t always agree with them but at least we discuss it and as a parent I have the last word, period.

And they still cuddle with me and need me. We’ll always have fun.

Don’t parent by accident. Do it deliberately.

I’ll say it is important for your Vampire kid, but it is important for all kids, even Werewolves and especially regular human kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

motherandchild

I bet God (and everyone else) doesn’t want your kids to be assholes.

The fear of God isn’t going to make your child a better person. It is not going to make your child a good person. It isn’t going to give your child a high moral compass.

What will make your child a better person is telling them that if they act like an asshole that everyone will think they’re an asshole. Nobody wants to be an asshole.

I told my kids that if you’re mean, if you act up at other people’s houses, if you don’t defend other kids in need, if you’re a bully, if you put up with bullies, if you make fun of others then everyone will think you’re an asshole.

How about sex and religion? No religion ever stopped a kid from getting pregnant or a STD. If you’re not responsible when it comes to sex you’re being stupid. If you use sex to get what you want you’re being an asshole.

If you smoke pot all the time or vape or get drunk all the time. Everyone will think you are stupid and maybe even an asshole.

Kids who are told God doesn’t like homosexuals, trans folks, anyone of a different color, anyone who is sort of weird and different, anyone with a different religion, anyone who is a free spirit, artists, write country music, or anyone who isn’t hurting anyone but not like you, grow up to be assholes and really stupid. Don’t teach your kids to hate someone who will never hurt you or anyone else. You know why? Cause they’ll grow up to be assholes.

Being a good person has nothing to do with religion or going to church. It has to everything to do how you treat others. It is how you live your life. It is standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Being a good person is being kind to all living creatures not because some higher power told you to but because it is the right thing to do – as a human. Watch the movie Bambi if you don’t know what I’m talking about. They (animals) think we’re assholes. Don’t be that asshole.

Good behavior shouldn’t be forced. Good behavior has it’s own rewards. It isn’t always easy because the world is full of jerks and assholes. Many of them justify their bad behavior and hate filled beliefs with their religion.

I am by no means an atheist. I’ve written a lot about angels, demons, and the forces of good and evil. I’ve written about death and grief and love.

I am not per se anti-religion, though in todays climate of people who howl about hateful things in the name of God and get involved in hateful politics, (including who you can love, what you can do with your own body) in the name of God, I am extremely anti-religion. Anti-hate and ignorance. Anti judgement. Anti stupidity.

Many good things come from religion but hate, ignorance, fear, mean behavior, and bigotry are not among those good things.

Read my blog. I have been inspired about the messages of love and hope that religion brings, but not by the twisted messages of stupidity and hate that some people are so drawn to.

For some reason hate is easier, especially when it is taught by adults to children who have not yet learned to think for themselves and see the outside world.

Yes, that is also why I speak so much against over protecting your children from the outside world. It makes them so vulnerable to either hate, or just being taken advantage of, or unhappiness when they’re finally exposed to and expeirence real life, and see that not everyone is like them or their parents.

But as a parent, and someone who has been damn successful at it, I feel I can spout off my views of how to raise a responsible, well adjusted, person with a high moral compass. I know what it takes to raise someone who cares and is a good person. 

It doesn’t matter what color your hair is, what sex you are, or what music you listen to, or if you like horror movies, or what flavor of ice cream you like, or who you pray to, or what freak flag you’re flying. Be yourself. Be good. Talk to others and learn about how they think, and most of all how they feel.

Being a good person means trying to understand different lifestyles and points of views. It has taken many of us many years to learn that. You’re never too old to learn or to change.

Don’t be a dick. It’s easy.

If you want your child to be good then teach them to be good. Talk to them. Talk with them. Show them how to be kind. Teach them the importance of kindness and the difference between right and wrong, between being an asshole and not being an asshole. Nobody wants to be around an asshole.

And if this rubs you wrong then fine. This is a Vampire blog anyway so you might be at the wrong place. You know a lot of people think Vampires hate Werewolves. Why? Because they’re different. That’s just stupid. See what I mean? Stupid.

Just remember, if we were all the same life would be boring, and the world would be a dull place indeed. And I bet we’d all be jerks.

I’ll see you all in the next post where you’ll learn about about parenting adult kids and getting rid of the roommate from hell (a situation where they had to adult all by themselves.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Parent Chaperones Behaving Badly (Or How YOU Need to BEHAVE on Your Child’s Field Trips)

Parent Chaperones Behaving Badly (Or How YOU Need to BEHAVE on Your Child’s Field Trips)

I’ll make this quick, because we all know parents (and I’m one of them) don’t have a lot of time.

If you have K-12 children you know they are going to go on field trips. If they go on field trips you know parents are going to be asked to go along as chaperones. You know that one day YOU will be asked to be a chaperone.

When you arrive to the location of the field trip you might have a guide to take the children on a tour, or to give them some sort of lesson or demonstration, or help with an activity.

Your field trip host might be a park ranger, a docent, or some sort of other adult helper. 90% of the time this guide/docent/helper will be a VOLUNTEER. By volunteer I mean someone who has freely given their time to spend their time teaching something to YOUR CHILD.

As a PARENT on these trips, be it a historic park, an art museum, a factory tour, or a science center, YOU need to do your part to make it a good experience for everyone.

Yes, being a chaperone is fun because you get to go someplace and take a day off from work. Fun fun fun. You also have responsibilities. Those responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the kids from acting like wild animals (including your child)
  • Encouraging the children to stay together
  • Encouraging the children to get along
  • Making sure the children pay attention to the guides/docents/teachers
  • Making sure the children are engaged
  • Making sure ALL of the children feel included in activities

YES that is YOUR JOB. 

  • Also… remember these trips are for the KIDS.
  • Don’t take over activities. If a guide/docent has a question for the CHILDREN let the CHILDREN answer it.
  • Be nice. Don’t be rude to guides or docents. Like I said, they are volunteers. They are doing this without pay. They are doing the best they can. If you’re an asshole it will just take away from the experience of the kids.
  • Don’t use tour time as a way to catch up with other parents. Watch for kids who are wandering off. And YOU are not allowed to wander off. Stay with the children. Stay engaged.
  • Don’t spend all of the time with YOUR CHILD. As a chaperone you have agreed to be with ALL of the kids in your group. Don’t wander off with your kid on a tour. It distracts the other children. It distracts the guide/docent. It distracts the other parents. Plus it is just rude.
  • Listen to the guide/docent and help the children follow the rules. It will make a safer tour and guarantee everyone will have a fun experience.
  • Don’t be an asshole.
  • Don’t look bored. Kids will pick up on that. Like I said, don’t be an asshole.
  • Do a little bit of research before you go on the field trip so you can discuss it with your child and the other kids in the group. There is a wonderful thing called the INTERNET. You can get all kinds of information about EVERYTHING including the location of your field trip.
  • Make sure kids get snacks before the tour or activity. Hungry kids don’t pay attention and tend the fidget. The same goes for bathrooms breaks. Make sure every has gone to the potty before the tour or activity.
  • Yes, you’re the adult. You’re a parent. That is your job when you volunteer as a chaperone.

Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be known as a good parent. Everyone wants to be asked back. Nobody wants a bad reputation. Follow my guidelines and you’ll be the coolest field trip chaperone in the class. I guarantee it.

That’s it. Simple rules. Be the adult you are. Your kids will than you for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Slut (and a few additional thoughts)

A story from my friend Bart. He’ll tell you all about it (you might have heard this before but it is a story well worth repeating – I’m sure a lot of you can relate.) At the end I will have a few more thoughts of my own.

Slut

A lot of us have kids in college, or starting college in the next year or two. One of the big things everyone is talking about is sexual assault on campus or in college towns. I’ve talked about it with my two kids who are in college. Everyone has, at least everyone who is a decent parent.

So I get this call from Hodge Williams. Yes, that Hodge Williams. Everyone remembers him.

“Bart, how are you?” As soon as he spoke I wondered what he wanted.

“Hodge. Fine. Great. Life is good. What’s up?”

“I’m writing a story on the history of sexual harassment and violence at universities in the US. I tried to contact your sister but she wouldn’t return my calls.”

“Beth?”

“Yes, Beth. She kind of got around so I was thinking she might have experienced first hand, you know, she was at risk.”

“What do you mean by at risk?”

“Oh come on, your sister was a slut. Everyone knew it.”

I sat there with the phone a bit stunned. He just called my sister a slut.

“Hodge, you’re an asshole. In fact you’ve always been an asshole.” I hung up the phone. What an asshole.

After sitting for a few minutes and collecting my thoughts I called my sister and told her about the conversation.

“What an asshole,” she said. “Sure I was sleeping with his best friend without the benefit of being his best friend’s official girlfriend. OK I also slept with another one of his friends but we were in college. We were young.”

“Did you ever sleep with Hodge?”

“No. Hell no. He was always making passes at me and grabbing me. Hodges had that Madonna/Whore things going on in his head. A girl was either a virgin until marriage or a whore. Plus we’re not like him, you know the religion thing, so he just assumed I was a whore.”

“But you didn’t have sex with him.”

“I know. That makes me a whore. He called any girl who wouldn’t have sex with him a whore.”

“What an asshole.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. I mean, if the guy had asked me to go see a movie or go for a walk or just spent time talking that would have been different but he was just all over me like…yuck. He really called you? I can’t believe he’d have the gall to do that. Asshole.”

After we got off the phone with the promise of a lunch date later in the week I got to thinking about my own kids.

I’d spoken with both my daughter and son about sexual predators. I’ve done the best to teach them not to be bully bait. I’ve taught them to stand up for themselves and for others.

From experience I knew that bullies never grow up and most don’t change.

Hodge never got the answer he wanted. Over the years Beth had a few close calls with sexual predators but she always ended up safe either by being with friends or using physical force to get out of it (exactly twice as she told me.) That didn’t include unwanted advances by guys like Hodge. And even though Hodge didn’t use force it still hurt emotionally that he’d think so little of her or of any girl.

I wanted to pound the crap out of him. Then I thought about how many other women out there who thought the guy was an asshole. That made me smile. Spread the word ladies, spread the word.

That evening after work I talked to my wife about it. She shook her head and said she’d had similar experiences. More anger surged through my brain, then sadness deep in my soul.

We all judge others. We all make assumptions. We all call names even if it isn’t out loud. We all talk behind the backs of others. Maybe we need to stop. It isn’t easy. It isn’t even practical.

Anyway, if you see Hodge Williams call him and an asshole, and tell him that Beth and Bart don’t say hello.

~ end

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since the day I became a mom I’ve thought of telling my kids about sexual predators. I’ve told them that more often than not sexual predators are people they know. It will be their word against yours. More often than not they already know how to hack the physical, emotional, legal, and social systems so that you won’t win. But always fight back. Never believe their lies. Tell your parents or someone else you trust.

Parents: LISTEN to your kids. Talk to them. Don’t judge. Don’t yell. Listen. Help. BELIEVE THEM. Kids and teens don’t lie about these things.

College Kids: RED CUPS. Don’t drink out of a drink anyone else gave you. That sweet punch in the big red cups will SLAM you hard. There will be a blog post about it and a quiz in a day or two.

In light of everything going on in the news this week I have a story. A friend posted something on FaceBook about men and boys behaving badly. She claimed if women flashed their boobs at Mardi Gras and other drunken events like concerts etc., then why did we all have a problem with men flashing their dicks.  I thought I’d quote my 19 year old daughter:

“When a woman flashes her boobs she is being silly and using bad judgement. It is insanely tacky and rude but not threatening anyone. When a man exposes his penis to someone it is a power and control thing. He is doing it as a threat. He is doing it with the purpose to make someone else intentionally uncomfortable. You can’t compare the two.”

That is all for today. Be safe. Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Believe them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Transitions

When I started this blog I was working full time for an organization outside of my home. My brain and the rest of my time was filled with Middle School and High School activities. I spent more time with my brothers. The canine love of my life was in her prime.

I couldn’t imagine having grown children.

Now everyone is in college. We discuss school but I’m not that involved, except to be a cheerleader, a therapist when needed, an entertaining distraction, and the one who pays for everything. Jasmine the white sled dog has gone over the rainbow bridge – her ashes sit in a box among old photographs. My cats are still here. A new dog Alice, a large goofy GSD is now in my life. I work alone at home. I rarely see anyone, except ghosts, and my ancient family members who welcome my visits, which need to be more frequent.

The sports and the activities have trickled off to almost nothing. I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere. I am alone here with a house full of books and animals.

Then again new activities call me. There is the art museum. There is my art. There are books in the works. There are walls to be painted. There are funny stories to tell.

And if I muse into melancholy madness Nigel the ghost will show up and kick my ass so I’d better move on.

We all change and evolve. That is part of being on this strange, horrible, and wonderful planet. We are trapped here so we need to be fluid. We need to keep evolving no matter how old or young we are. Growth never ends.

I find myself telling my kids not to judge others for what they do or the choices they make. Not all young people have it as good as they do. They don’t have someone helping them pay for school and everything else. They don’t have someone who is there 24/7 to listen. They don’t have someone who doesn’t judge them or question their every move. They have a safety net. Not everyone has that so their choices can’t be judged. I urge everyone to understand the choices of others.

There is no clear path. Five year plans are wonderful until a tornado hits your house, or someone you love dies, or you get sick, or the economy crashes, or your heart gets broken. So you take another road, or climb out of another window, or up another tree, or make where you are a better place. You add more books to your shelves and make an effort to call your friends, and your mom.

Parenting adults is tricky because they don’t want to listen, they need you to listen more than anything in the world, and they start to parent their own parents.

Yes, they do all of that.

It is scary. More scary that a pack of zombies banging at your back door. You can deal with zombies. You don’t love them. They just make a mess. But dealing with your kids, no matter how easy and wonderful they are, is always a challenge.

Dealing with Zombies: Shot gun. Flame thrower. Pissed off Vampires.

Dealing with Adult Children: Listening. Worrying. Loving. Worrying. Listening. Loving. Laughing. Learning to let them be adults. Learning not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

Everything will be alright.

With your kids, and with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman