Thinking Back on Being A Parent

When I started writing this blog I was dealing with Middle School and summer camp. Now I’m helping my kids navigate lease agreements and finding the best coffee grinders.

Over the years I’ve talked about navigating school and social situations. We’ve gone to concerts. I’ve seen first love come and go, but I’ve also best friends, and bonds that will last the ages.

In the great big world my children and I have discussed school shootings, the environment, and politics. We’ve been to political events so the kids and their friends could have that experience and see what it was all about. We’ve known what it is like to be different. We’ve known what it is like to be part of a group.

Every family is different, but I feel, I know there are some things that all parents must do.

So many people think schools should raise their children and teach them everything. Or many think going to church (God forbid) will teach their kids all they need to know about being a decent person. But they miss the point.

As a parent it is YOUR responsibility to raise your child. Not just feed them or clothes them but to share your world with them.

The number one most important thing I can say to parents is to TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I don’t mean lecture them or talk at them. I mean talk with them and LISTEN to them. Discuss things with them.

Encourage your children to be “big picture” people and go beyond their family, friends, and school. One day they’ll go out into the big wide world. You don’t want our little birds to take wings and get eaten by the first raptor who comes along. Teach them to see, to watch, to question, to be aware.

Teach your children to have their own opinions. Not everyone is a leader, but you don’t want you child to be a follower. They need to know that it is alright it they take their own path. If they choose to be with others that is OK but it must be their choice.

And yes, they should be allowed to make their own choices but you, as a parent, need to guide those choices. If they hang out with a bully then STOP that friendship cold. Let your child know why. If they have a friend you don’t like and the alarms go off then STOP that friendship. You’re the parent. Teach your kids to have real friends, not just kids to hang out with. Teach them NOT to give into negative peer pressure or bullies. Talk to them about it. Always encourage them to take the higher road. Even tiny children understand that to some extent.

Early on explain to your child how important reputation is. It is easy to lose one’s reputation but it is extremely difficult to get it back. Kids lose their reputations by hanging out with kids who offer nothing but trouble. Don’t think you can save someone by being good. They will only drag your kid down with them – and they won’t care. I know this is harsh but I’ve seen it happen too many times.

At the same time teach your children that good friends are a treasure. Teach them that they can have friends that are a different sex, a different color, a different sexual orientation, a different faith, and just different. Diversity is good. I speak from experience. Acceptance is awesome. Love is awesome. Friendship is awesome.

I love my children’s friends. I have grown to love their parents too. As much as I wail on about things I don’t like – I have been honored to have met so many great kids and awesome parents. Woo Hoo.

Laugh with your children every single day.

Encourage your kids to always be curious.

Raise a child who will be a life long learner.

Raise your children to be better than you are.

Raise your children to be better than you are. Even today my daughter showed me that she is a much better person than I am. I won’t go into details, but I can be an asshole. My child gives no second chances (like her dad) but she is smart, kind, and thoughtful. She has tact. Don’t get me wrong, most people think I’m the sweetest thing in the world (even other Vampires) but I can be… well, not always the person I should be. I’ve raised my child not to be like that.

I’m not the perfect parent. I think I’m a better parent for not reading copious amounts of parenting books. Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages is a must read. Real parenting stories are the best – not theory from experts and cold clinical studies. Besides, every child is different. Every parent is different. Every family is different. What works for me might not work for others. But I have to admit I am so proud of the kind of mom I’ve been.

Hey, how many kids can say “my mom blogs about vampires.” Not many.

No matter what you do, make your kid proud of you, and be proud of your kid.

Love them.

Encourage them.

Talk with them.

TALK.

Keep the communications open. Be positive. Be understanding. LISTEN. Let them know that YOU are their safe place.

Parenting doesn’t stop at middle school, or even high school. It is a life long job, even when they move out, gets jobs, and start their own families. Let them live their lives but let them know that you’re always there for them with your love and your understanding.

~Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Trust your kids. Seriously, they’re your kids so you should trust them.

If you automatically assume you can’t trust our kids they will never trust or respect you.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Don’t listen to parenting advice from people who are bad parents with rotten kids.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My nineteen year old daughter just texted me that due to the forest fires she and her boyfriend can’t see Mt. Shasta. Last night she sent me a photo from the cabin they’re staying in near Dunsmuir and Castle Crags State Park.

I would have never sent my parents messages like that had there been phones or texts when I was her age. The only texts they would have sent me were texts asking me where I was and texts that proved they didn’t trust me. I wanted to hear about the dog not their concerns that I might have been doing something bad. Of course they were too uncomfortable talking to me about “bad” things.

Never be uncomfortable talking to your children about anything – no matter how old or how young they are. You’re the parent. You never need to be uncomfortable with YOUR child. Of course you might just be uncomfortable about yourself. Don’t be an ostrich and get your head out of the sand. Ignoring shit won’t make it go away.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents but it was a different relationship than I have with my own children.

I learned that I was not to be trusted even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Parents assume they can’t trust their teens. Then again can we trust anyone? We all have our secrets. But to automatically assume that youth can’t be trusted does far more harm than good.

If children know you don’t trust them they will learn to lie. They will learn to be great liars too. Lies will be come part of their everyday life. Strange to some but true.

So how do you build that trust? Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Engage with them. Be there for them. Believe them when they do tell the truth. Stand up for them. Start the dialogue when they’re young.

I don’t advocate a totally no rules childhood. Kids are going to make mistakes. They’re going to do stupid things. They’re going to be untrustworthy. That is part of growing up. Childhood is a time of trial and error. But if you teach them to learn from their mistakes, if you guide them to do the right thing, if you teach them about self-respect and the value of a good reputation, if you teach them to be smart – not just book smart but street smart, then, well, it is a good start. Nothing about parenting should be accidental, even if you’re relaxed like me. I’m serious.

Every child is different and every family is different so it isn’t always easy. But don’t go into parenting with a harsh negative attitude. Teach your kids with love, and laughter and a positive attitude. Make them WANT to keep you updated on their where, when, who, and why.

Unfortunately our kids are all unique individuals so we can’t control everything they do or think. We can’t control all of the influences in their lives or their weird impulses. Unfortunately in a lot of families an older child will screw up so the parents assume all of the kids will. Don’t do that. Don’t punish all of your kids for the actions of one.

For example I have known several people who had siblings who took college money and lied about going to school. So the parents decided not to help any of their kids with college. That is just messed up. Don’t punish all of your children for the actions of one.

The blind lack of trust can and will cause resentment that lasts a lifetime. Nobody wants that.

Sure, your children will do stupid things at all stages of their lives. But try to trust them. Give them your trust and they will value it, if they know you value them.

Simplistic? Yes. Easy? Not always.

Sometimes kids are assholes. You have to talk to them about that in straight forward honest terms. Sometimes you have to say “don’t be a jerk” Any kid over ten will understand that.

We’ve all done stupid things in our youth. Learn from your mistakes and use that experience as a parent. That is your job.

I trust you on this one.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

College Life – What I learn from my child

One thing I LOVE about having a child in college is that I learn almost everything my child learns (except the math.)

Ever since Clara, was a preschooler she has always told her dad and I all about what she learned in school. Even when she went on field trips she’d repeat to us what the park rangers, or museum docent said.

Yesterday afternoon she told me about her new political science class (second semester of college started this week.) I learned about the instructor (he used to be a spy, and has two kids.) I learned about how he runs a classroom (no immaturity allowed – he will drop kids who don’t act mature.) I learned what the students will be learning. My child and I talked for about an hour about the two-hour class she’d just finished.

Like I said, this isn’t something new. During the fall semester I learned all about religion, our environment, weird fellow students, art, history, philosophy, and everything except math and Spanish. I did learn all about the math and Spanish classes – the teachers and the fellow students.

I learned who put out tables on campus – mostly political and religious groups. I learned about blood drives, especially after the Las Vegas shooting.

Now the second semester is starting. I’m looking forward to learning about the US Government and Marine Biology.

I’m looking forward to hearing my child’s nightly observations and insights.

I’m looking forward to hearing the passion in her voice.

She knows her parents will actively listen too.

Clara told me that if she tells someone else what she learns it will help her retain the information. True.

My child isn’t one of those brainiacs who always got straight A’s and was wooed by Stanford University or Ivy League schools. But she is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

It isn’t advanced math that will make her go far. She has passion. She has communication skills. Yes, people skills. She listens. She observes. She evaluates. She relates. She sees learning as an active life long skill.

She is my child and I am amazed every single day.

She is also hilariously funny.

Over the years I’ve posted “What we talked about this morning on the way to school” posts. I’ll have to start doing that again. She has her own car now, but we still talk before and after school.

When she leaves for the big university we’ll still talk.

If you get one thing out of this parenting blog THIS is it: Talk with your kids. Listen to your kids. LISTEN. Encourage them to talk to you and with you. Hear their thoughts and ideas. The more you listen the more they’ll want to talk to you.

And you’ll say, “Life is good.”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

By the way we also talk about pets, music, people we know, fashion, beauty products, the weather, movies, Netflix, cat and possum memes, and other daily stuff… but that is another blog post.

 

 

 

 

Mom mom mom mom mom

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Even when your kids move out, when they’re adults, when they’re feeling independent, even when they know everything, and even when they think you’re old…they still need you. That’s a good thing. Be cool. Be in touch. Be a parent.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom?

She was the wife of a ship captain. He sailed out of San Francisco in the 1850’s, from a bay so full of ships that there was barely room to maneuver. The first time she saw him…she missed her boat because her phone kept dinging.

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Walking away I pulled my hood up over her head to guard from the biting cold wind and rain. I walked down the street wanting to be anywhere but the court house. I was tired of waiting and waiting and waiting. What did they do behind those closed doors? Why did every single blessed thing take so long. I just wanted to go home and read a good book by the fire and watch the rain. I wanted to be with my children. I wanted it to be summer and meet my girlfriends after work for drinks at one of their favorite places by the river and watch the young testosterone laden assholes showing off in their ski boats and smell the mix of wild flowers, red wine…rewrite. 

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He came by in a tight fitting black tee and jeans that actually were from this century. He was a Roman god, a movie star, a gracefully aging male model. Women turned to look at him. But it just seemed that the high maintence ones edging on middle age who who flocked around him like groupies. Was it the money, his good looks? He was different with them. All flattery and dazzling toothpaste commercial smiles. Then I realized that he was just like them. Birds preening, always doing the mating dance. He should have been in the court of Louis the 14th. He should have been a fop and a dandy in velvets and heels. But with his build he should have been a Viking with his golden hair in braids and the biggest horns on his head with the biggest ship in the fleet, the biggest, well, the biggest everything. He was a professional show off. P.T. Barnum would have marketed Sammy as “The Perfect Male.”

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Nigel continued to rattle on. “I bet Sammy has black satin sheets in his bachelor pad. I bet he has a water bed. Does anyone have those anymore? I remember half the girls I dated had them. They used the excuse it was easier to move. Right. Always gave me a backache. I hated those things. Man, you don’t want to be in one of those things with a hangover. It’s like being seasick only worse. Death is easier than a hangover in a water bed. Believe me, I know first hand, and death is much much easier. I’ll tell you a bucket on the side of the bed wasn’t for bailing out water. What was that store that sold waterbeds, Night Comfort. The guy had commercials on late night TV and read letters from inmates at Folsom Prison who were dreaming about when they got out with their old ladies and their trusty waterbed. Ohhhhhh baby. Ray, I think his name was Ray, or maybe Chuck but I forgot what his last name is. And what sort of grown man calls himself Sammy? Sam maybe or Samuel but Sammy? Come on, you call a 4 year old or a dog Sammy but not a grown man. I thought he’d grown out of that once he got to Stanford.”

I turned around and glared at Nigel. If he wasn’t already dead I would have considered killing him.

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By the way November is National Novel Writing Month… I am working on a novel or two, or three, but sometimes I get distracted.

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Mom versus the Alien Girl

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When you twenty year old son is texting with his friends about the Star Trek preview with the Kirk and the weird space alien girl, and he sends it to the wrong number.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman