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

 

 

Parenting: Nothing is By Accident

Today is my daughter’s 18th Birthday. I am no longer the mother of minor children.

I can’t even express the love I feel for my children – it is too much to put into words.

My daughter is one of the most wonderful and amazing beings I have ever met. Part of me knows it was just because of her DNA and whatever star dust she has in her soul. And some of it is her dad and me.

As a parenting blogger, once more I’ll let you in on my parenting philosophy. Nothing is by accident. I parent deliberately. I parent positively. I parent with love.

First rule – and more or less only rule: Don’t just talk at your kids. Engage your children. Make it a two-way conversation.

If you have one of those pesky and annoying tots who asks, “WHY?” all the time, I know it is tempting to drop them off at Grandma’s house forever or feed them to Goblins, but turn it around and ask, “why do you think? Let’s figure this out.” Then again if it gets really bad tell the child to just cut it out.

We cut the tantrums out of our life early. It was never acceptable. Period. I put them on the couch and told them NEVER AGAIN. The only tantrums that should be in your home are Fritz and the Tantrums.

You can fill your kid’s head with visions of God and Hell. You can yell at them. You can threaten them. You can take stuff away. What worked with us? When there was bad behavior at our house, or stupid behavior we discussed the long term social impact of such behavior. If you act stupid everyone will think you’re stupid. If you do stupid things everyone will think badly of you FOREVER because a reputation is a hard thing to get back once you’ve lost it.

Reputation was a long and difficult talk, but as a parent, you have to do it.

Always keep the lines of communication open with your children. Don’t judge until you’ve listened to them. Also let them know that it is alright to speak up and speak the truth. Often children (more often than not) will tell adults what they think the adult wants to hear. You have to dig to get to the truth. If you keep the lines of communication open then kids will talk. Tell them that it is OK to tell the truth.

Spend time with your kids. That doesn’t mean somebody has to stay home full time. I know a lot of working parents who spend a lot more time, and better time, with their kids than a lot of stay at home parents. Don’t even get me started on this argument that can never be won by either side. It isn’t a contest. Every family is different so get over it.

Anyway, spend good quality time with your kids. Engage with them. Talk with them. Teach them things you love, and in turn let them teach YOU things.

Things to do with your children:

Dance

  • Sing
  • Read
  • Talk
  • Discuss
  • Explore
  • Discover
  • Hug
  • Love
  • Love
  • Love
  • Protect
  • Laugh (do this about a hundred times)
  • Be silly
  • Share
  • Listen
  • Love

How hard is that? Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll thank me for it later. Maybe even sooner than later.

And remember, this is for regular folks too – not just Vampires.

Wow. It has been a wonderful and amazing love filled adventure – and this isn’t the end of it. They might be grown but they’re still my babies – always.

xoxxoox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Have Some Cake (and Parenting of Course)

In honor of the Grammy’s I was planning on doing a post of the WORST songs ever (Rhiannon, McArthur Park, Spill the Wine, Sylvia’s Mother, Seventeen, That horrible roller skate/key song, The Thong Song, Free Bird, anything featuring Barbara Streisand, Ariana Grande, St. Vincent, or The Doobie Brothers.) I decided to skip it for something not so negative. Musical taste is so subjective.

But it was fun this summer driving across the endless Utah desert with my child, after the air conditioner had failed, listening to the worst songs ever. Let me explain…when a song on the “worst songs of all time” list came on I’d turn it up as part of my daughter’s cultural education. She listened to the entire performance of McArthur Park. I had to explain that the cake out in the rain and finding the recipe was a metaphor for lost love or some bull shit like that, while my seventeen year old child laughed out loud. We both laughed out loud in our 400 degree F car driving along about two hundred miles from the nearest town.

Everything in life isn’t good, no matter how hard you try to put that twist on your child rearing philosophy. At least there are times, like with music, when you can use humor to teach your kid about bad taste, bad judgement, bad fashion, bad friends, bad politics, and all of those weird things that come across our pathway.

Music, like art, literature, and cats, is something you can share with your kids. It brings people together. Stay with me on this because I know a lot of people hate their kids music. At least you can make an effort to understand what they like, and why they like it. Or maybe you can find something new together. Expand your horizons. Take a leap of faith and turn to a different number on the radio dial together. You might hate it. You might love it. But you did it together – with your kid.

Now for the real reason I brought up music. Yesterday I posted a story about a couple of Vampire kids in college called “Why I Hate Valentine’s Day.” Blog traffic was through the roof (because I am the Queen of Love Letters). But NOBODY, not a single person mentioned the reference to a song in the story. Oh come on guys, humor me a little.

And yes, I do love each and every one of you who reads and follows this blog.

OK, here it is. Listen and look for it.

Listen to the next songs too. Have fun even if you don’t like it. Or as your mom would say, “Don’t complain, it’s good for you.” Here are a couple of the best covers ever. Yes, listen to the Vampire – it’s good for you. Don’t complain.

By the way, the band CAKE is from Sacramento, my hometown. We’re a creative kind of place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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