Could Parents Anonymous Have Helped My Mother?


My mother taught me to work in the garden and to clean our rural house but she forgot nurturing; I wondered if Parents Anonymous could have helped her.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 21, 2015

I have asked myself this question a thousand times: “Could Parents Anonymous have helped my mother?”

My mother used to tell her friends about how bad I was. I didn’t do things correctly in the garden; there were weeds left and I did not till the soil as deeply as she wanted. I did not do as she expected in the house; there were greasy spots on pans, I did not fold laundry like she wanted and the living room carpet had footprints. My room never looked as neat as she expected; when I came home from school I would change quickly and forget to put my clothes away before going to feed the horse, ponies, bull and hog.

Yes, to my mother, I was a bad kid.

What if mom had a group of mothers that met with the exclusive purpose of talking about parenting issues? What could my mother have learned?

Perhaps other parents would ask my mother a few questions:

“What do you and Jackie do together for fun?”
“What do and Jackie talk about besides chores?”
“What kind of fun things does Jackie do?”
“How old is Jackie?”
“How does she do in school?”

Thinking about those few questions, my mother might begin to see me as the child that I was rather than the work that I could produce. My mother could have compared the other mother’s parenting to her own. With information from the other parents, I believe she could begin to see me as a child that needed more balance, regular time off from chores to develop friendships, activities and to learn.

My mother was a person that never stopped working; she could never relax. She was up early, dressed and already busy with her daily activities long before my brothers and I got up for school. She would “take a break to smoke a cigarette” and before she was finished, she would put it in the ashtray to do something else. Hard work is valued but she was in perpetual motion. The problem was that she expected everyone else to be like her as well – busy, busy, busy. My problem was that I was normal.

My mother once told me, long after I had Chelsey and Katie, that she never realized how well-behaved her children were until she heard about other people’s kids. She had been going on her own limited perspective that she had learned from her parents, a strict preacher and a mother that was clearly overworked with so many children to feed, clothe and care for. That was the pattern set for my mother; back in her time people did not talk about what went on behind closed doors. If my mother had sat down with other parents from around the county, I have no doubt that she would have made adjustments in her parenting. By getting and giving tips in a supportive environment, I believe my mother could have been less abusive with more parenting tools than a belt.

Over the years, it has been my personal experience, that if any parent attends the Parents Anonymous Support Groups with an open mind, they will make positive changes in their parenting methods. You can be sure their children will be happier and healthier. I know mine are happier than I was.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Unsplash.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Erda Estremera.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Parents Anonymous | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

When You See Child Abuse In Public


Shopping can be stressful and frustrating for parents and children alike; planning ahead can relieve some of that stress.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 14, 2015

We have all seen parents losing it in public with their children, but what can anyone do to help?

We were shopping once and passed between the electronics and clothing just in time to see a very large man loudly berate, then lightly tap his son on his head. The boy, maybe ten, raised both his arms to protect his head and tried to duck as the man then attempted to kick his behind. The man looked around and discovered he had an audience then mumbled something about “a brat” and shoved him along.

There were about five or six other shoppers staring him down. His stature made the boy look so small and helpless, looking as if he wanted to disappear with his shame. What could the boy possibly have done to deserve such humiliation? We all watched the father retreat with his family as we stared in disbelief, not knowing what to do or say. All I could think was, ‘I wonder what happens at home behind closed doors?’

What can you do when you witness a situation like this in public? You could whip out your cell phone and call… whom? By the time anyone shows up we would all be standing there looking silly because the man herded his family away quickly. Even if the proper authorities arrived in time to meet the man, would they do anything? They might not do much since there were no visible bruises or marks and what you saw was merely a brief snippet of time.

What else could I/we have done? Twenty-twenty hindsight offers options for you to think about for next time:

Empathize with the parent:

“Shopping can be so exhausting— maybe everyone needs a break.”

“It’s okay to have a bad day— it’s what we do that counts.”

“I don’t like spending money either, but it’s only once in a while.”

Compliment the parent:

“Your son has your eyes! Wow, shopping is such a drag.”

“You’ve handled shopping great so far— it won’t be much longer now.”

Look at his shopping cart and say, “Looks like you found some good deals today!”

Confront the parent:

“That will not make you or your son feel better about shopping.”

“Losing your cool may not be best way to handle a stressful situation.”

“You can always apologize to your son but you are not setting a good example.”

Only you can judge the situation to but your focus should be on the outcome for the child. Try to provoke thought, not anger. It is good to distract an abusive parent and hopefully cool the situation, but never put yourself or your own children at risk. Try to enlist other witnesses to stand together to show the parent others disapprove as well. The child will begin to understand what the parent did or said was wrong. If you feel the parent is only moving the abusive situation to another location you could try to get the license plate number for the authorities. If you feel there is imminent danger dial 911 and tell them factually what happened. (Statements of emotion are not helpful: “I was so mad/scared/sorry for the child.”)

This situation plays out in stores every day. The abusive parent just happened to be a father but many mothers fall victim to the same stresses of parenting (and shopping) as this man. If you have ever found yourself saying abusive comments or striking your child out of anger, please get help. It is much more fun being a parent when you are not hitting your children.

Plan ahead for a successful shopping trip:

• Limit the amount of time spent shopping in stores.
• Explain to children where you will be going, what you will do/buy and how long you will be there.
• Bring a small snack and bottle of water in case of hunger.
• Make sure the child is not tired or sick before going.
• Exit the store as quick as is reasonably possible when kids get cranky to avoid a meltdown.
• Be willing to put merchandise down and leave the store.

Understand these things:

• Shopping is boring for kids, even for a few minutes.
• Young children do not have self-restraint or patience.
• Young kids have little concept of time; to them five minutes may seem like an hour.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Tinker.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Anger, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Passage of Time: A Message for Parents


Katie’s loves were music and art; her dream was to one day own a baby grand piano.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 7, 2015

On those seemingly never-ending days when no energy remains except to crawl into bed, think about this:

Last week I banged away at my keyboard, finishing up end-of-the-month work and was distracted by a familiar tune – Rhapsody in Blue. Backing away from my desk, I turned to face the TV. The screen showed a commercial that promised comfort and happiness, as they always do in the world of advertising. But my attention was not on material goods, it was on the music and the memories it brought.

Katie loved art and music as a small child. My co-members in the Parents Anonymous group used to tell me to make allowances for her behavior saying “she’s an artist” and that she possessed that “creative nature.” And because we ‘trust the group,’ I held off on becoming stricter with her and gave her leeway on requests and chores.

Katie began with a small, electronic keyboard that she quickly outgrew. Her father did something he almost never does and splurged (less than $200) to get her a larger keyboard that was not quite the size of a real piano. I took a cassette recording of her music and played it for the group. Everyone encouraged me to do whatever I could to support her budding talent.

Weeks later, on a busy Saturday, Katie and I were headed to the bookstore. We passed a music store on the way and there, big as life, was a sign that said: “Reduced For Quick Sale.” I still do not understand why – I turned the car around and told her I just wanted to take a look.

Once in the store, I began to hear the members behind me: “Just do it.” “Her dad will get over it.” “It’s not that much money.” “That’s what credit cards are for.”

Katie found a beautiful black-onyx, upright piano with a small bit of damage that did not affect play, but made it more affordable. She sat on the tufted bench and began to play. The effect was immediate: other customers stopped to listen and Katie looked as if she already owned that piano. The piano cost around $1,200 – more money than I ever spent without discussing it with Mr. Ramirez first. Half an hour later we left the shop with receipt in hand and we headed home to make a space for the piano.

On the way home we looked at each other and broke out in giggles. We expected Mr. Ramirez to explode in a rage so I was thinking of ways to soften the news. But it didn’t matter; I had listened to the group and they had never steered me wrong. Once he saw her fingering the keys and heard how well she played, he stopped grumbling.

The piece below is on YouTube and is similar to the one she played most often – minus the orchestral additions.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – Makoto Ozone, NY Philharmonic

Music, for Katie filled needs beyond pleasant sounds. Through high school, she would come home, drop her books and play. The act of playing, and the music itself, was a salve to her very soul. Playing washed the daily stress away and inspired creativity in her world. Like the group reminded me so often – it’s an artist thing.

As I listened to Rhapsody in Blue and thought about Katie, and then about parents and school and stress, it struck me how hard parenting is at times, and then how quickly it passes. There were times when Katie followed my every step from sunup to sundown; I couldn’t even go to the bathroom alone. Today Katie is nearing 30 and is still very much that artist that continues to love music.

The message is this: to remember that no matter what parents are dealing with, that there is an end to it all. And in time, parents and children will reminisce about those wonderful (stressful, difficult, busy) times and they will laugh at how much they miss them.

Trust the group; they are never wrong.

Postscript: After Katie became proficient at the upright piano, she told me that one day she will have an open-up baby grand when she grows up. I have no doubt that she will eventually reach that goal. Believe in your children and they will believe in themselves.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Tiago Aguiar and Unsplash License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Is Parenting So Difficult?


Stress from lack of help, support, isolation, time, parenting knowledge, mental or physical illness and a parent experiencing abuse as a child are only a few of the possible reasons parenting can be difficult.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | Septembr 30, 2015

Why is being a mother or father so hard? Parenting looks easy – cute, smiling kids – what could possibly go wrong? Parenting is not now or has ever been easy.

Stress is a major factor in any household and it comes from all sides. Financial stress is constant for basic necessities like housing, food, transportation, clothing and medical care. Keeping one’s head above water takes a toll. Unexpected costs like a class trip fee, a car repair or the loss of goods can push back the rent or paying a credit card payment. Those pressures are real and many families do not have any financial cushions. Keeping up appearances or keeping up with the Joneses can also cause pressure to buy things they do not want or need or cannot afford. Loss of employment can compound this stress.

Time is a finite resource. No matter how well parents manage their time – paying bills while talking on the phone, setting appointments while waiting in a checkout line or sending text reminders to kids to meet at a specific time and place – they cannot create more time. Running behind schedule or overcommitted responsibilities cause stress that takes a toll. Some parents are reluctant to ask for help or perhaps do not know who or where to ask. Not being able to say ‘no’ to more commitments can add more stress and resentment.

Isolation can be tough to deal with. When a parent new to an area has young children, getting out and meeting other parents can be difficult. Stepping up and starting conversation or initiating play dates takes courage. Other reasons for isolation could be cultural or gender differences; a stay-at-home father may find fitting in uncomfortable. Ethnic or religious differences could prevent parents from reaching out to others.

Lack of parenting knowledge, about what to do, say or how to discipline in a healthy manner, is a major problem for some parents. Parents who were abused themselves do not have an example to pattern their skills after. Many times, parents are embarrassed to admit they are unsure or need help for parenting.

Illness, physical or mental, can make parenting more difficult. Disabilities, depression or anxiety can severely impact healthy interactions with children and others. Depression or anxiety can prevent a parent from reaching out for help. The Parents Anonymous motto is: “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”

Past abuse as a child can cloud a parent’s thinking and distort how they view their own children. ‘They are pushing my buttons’ or ‘They did it to get on my nerves’ are examples of things a parent may use to rationalize their own abuse. If you or a parent you know was abused as a child, get help before abusing a child. Parents Anonymous can help turn everything around. (Resources below.)

Change in family structure through divorce or death can forever alter life as it was, forcing change. Defining a new pattern of activity can be unnerving for many. After a divorce or death, too often the support social network changes.

Domestic violence is damaging to everyone involved, victimizing an entire household. The focus becomes ‘keeping the abuser happy’ in hopes of avoiding the next outburst.

Drug and alcohol issues creep into families to rob them of money, health and harmony. Users often struggle and do not see or acknowledge the damage caused.

These are only a few stressors that make parenting so difficult. When a parent anywhere experiences any of these issues or others they can look in their local phone book for help or reach out to the resources below for referrals. All parents struggle in daily life but remembering that today is not forever can help.

Here are a few tips from the “I Am A Parents Anonymous Parent” booklet called “The Blue Book.”

• STOP in your tracks. Step back. Sit down. Take a time out for yourself.
• Take five deep breaths. Inhale and count to two, then exhale slowly counting to four. Repeat.
• Count to 10, 50 or 100! Say the alphabet or sing it out loud.
• Phone the local Parents Anonymous® Parent Helpline if one is available.
• Phone another parent from your Parents Anonymous® Group.
• If you are really angry, be sure to give your child some space.
• Look through a magazine, newspaper, photo album, etc.
• Try to tap into your sense of humor.
• Pick up a pencil and write down your thoughts and feelings or keep a journal.
• Remember times when you have been this angry and handled it well.
• Do something that relaxes you.
• Do some physical exercise.
• Close your eyes and visualize a place where everything is calm and perfect.
• Put on headphones and listen to music or a talk.
• Step outside your front door and sit on the steps for a few minutes.
• Dial a toll-free line and talk with someone.
• Do knee bends or leg lifts.
• Do yoga and think positive thoughts.

That little blue book literally saved my life and put me on the right path to better parenting.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Sonja Langford & Unsplash.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tips On Change


Change comes incrementally over time and is constant; a new change can become routine in three weeks.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 23, 2015

By the time people get to a self-help group, they may be at their lowest point and are desperate to change things quickly.

That is true with any self-help venue whether it be Parents Anonymous, quitting smoking or any 12-Step group; rock bottom is no fun matter. Speaking for myself and other parents who come to Parents Anonymous, by the time we admit we need help, we are ready to pull our hair out. It takes a few meetings to trust the group and then we are ready to buckle down and do the work.

There are two important things that all members should understand to reach success.

1. Change only one thing at a time. (Two if the changes are simple.)

Frustrated parents may pull out a notepad and begin to jot down new rules to implement, new ideas to try and a timeline for when all this should be completed. In a perfect world it would be nice if children cooperated, there was more hours in a day and parents had an endless supply of energy. But there is no perfect world. To try and tackle a laundry list of changes in a set amount of time would be setting a parent (and child) up to become more frustrated and to fail.

Children are, well, children; they would not be able to cope with a number of rule changes or activity pattern changes quickly. Parents want children to have success at attempting any new challenge. By limiting the number of requests or changes until they have mastered the first is the best way to help them achieve that success.

2. Allow 21 days or three weeks for any change.

The accepted school of thought states that it takes 21 days for a change to kick in and become a normal pattern of behavior. If the new rule is to change clothes immediately after coming home from school when kids were used to having a snack first then changing, it will take at least three weeks, maybe more, for that pattern to become the norm. Remember that nothing is forever.

Patience is an important key when dealing with ourselves or children; we all slip up on occasion. And there are always exceptions to almost any rule. Can you think of an exception to the above-mentioned rule on changing clothes immediately? What if the child is ill? What if the child needs to eat due to a medical condition?

Stick to 21 days for new rules unless the child appears to have a grasp of the new pattern and can add a new change. For instance, if a child is consistently changing clothes immediately after a week then parents can add a new rule sooner, like walking the dog after having an after-school snack.

With each success, kids should receive verbal feedback. It doesn’t have to be overdone, a simple comment: “You mastered the new rule and I appreciate that.”

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mikael Kristenson & Unsplash.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Preventing Parent Deafness


Children laughing and giggling with friends may hear parents but the words might not register as they would like.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 9, 2015

Parent deafness was a term coined many years ago that meant children were not listening to parents. When I hear from a parent that their child is not listening to them, I have to wonder why. Some children might actually choose to ignore a parent, but others, I think, tend to tune out a parent who talks on and on or preaches and reminds.

When my daughters were younger, I tried to limit the amount of speech (lecturing and preaching) so that they would not become parent deaf. Doing that meant that I edited my words the same as I would something I wrote like this Reminder or a letter to a company. That was especially needed with something important like instructions or a message. The fewer the words, the more important each word choice becomes.

We tend not to hear ourselves when we are talking (or yelling) because speech is automatic; we think and verbalize almost instantaneously. But if we take a moment to formulate communication then we may be less likely to confuse what we intend to say with too many extra words (or yelling).

Getting kids stop reading or playing a game to look parents in the eye can help kids absorb what is being said.

How can parents get kids to listen and understand what they are saying?

• Make sure kids are not absorbed into media of some sort; if they’re listening to music, texting or playing a video game – they will not hear parents.

• Get kids to focus on listening; if kids are busy making a sandwich, they are thinking about a PB&J, not listening to parents.

• When finished speaking, parents can ask kids to repeat back to them what was said. If they get it wrong, ask kids to sit and make eye contact while what was said is repeated.

Practice does (sort of) make perfect. Do you have other ideas to ensure kids listen? We would love to hear from you.

PHOTO: Courtesy of CK, Carl, Carlo, Carlito Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Bart van Maarseveen Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Personal Safety Tips For Children


Children should know of safe places along their route where they can go if they feel unsafe: A trusted neighbor or other people, a store, library and so on.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 16, 2015

As young children go off to school and other activities, it is a good time to review personal safety guidelines and tips. These are but a few basic safety measures parents can go over with their kids.

• Children need to memorize their (1) full name, (2) address, (3) parents’ full name and phone numbers and (4) parents’ place of employment.
• Children need to be able to (1) dial long distance telephone numbers, (2) dial 9-1-1 and (3) how to use a pay phone. In New Jersey there is no charge to dial 9-1-1 from a pay phone. (See 9-1-1 New Jersey Coloring And Activity Book below)
• Teach children a secret code that only parents and children know. If someone tries to get the child to go with them, the person should give the child that secret code first.
• Children should stay in their yard unless parents give permission and know where they will be and who else will be there.
• Children should never go inside someone’s home unless a parent knows and has given prior permission.
• Children should understand that strangers do not always look scary; they can be any age, gender, race, size or occupation.
• Children should understand that not all people who know them and their family are good people; some could be bad.
• Children should never accept gifts, toys, candy or money without first getting permission from parents.
• Children should avoid deserted buildings, alleys and woods. Children should not take shortcuts without a parent’s knowledge and prior approval.
• Children should not go alone to movies, malls, playgrounds, public restrooms or through parking lots.
• Children should run in the opposite direction and yell if someone speaks to them from a vehicle.
• Children should not agree to a ‘secret’ without a parent’s approval.
• Children should understand that adults do not ask help from a child; this is a ploy used to get near a child or get them to go with them. Examples: “Could you help me look for my puppy?” “Can you test this computer game for me?”
• Children should report any suspicious vehicles by getting the license plate number. To avoid forgetting the number they can write it in the dirt or on a sidewalk with a stone.
• Children should be aware of safe places they could go if they feel unsafe.
• Children should understand that no person should touch them in an area that is normally covered with a bathing suit or swim trunks, unless it is during an appointment with their doctor.
• Children should stay in well-lit areas and return home before dark.
• Children that lose parents in a crowd can stoop to look for the parents’ legs or shoes.

Young children should learn not to go alone to movies, malls, playgrounds, public restrooms or through parking lots. Children should understand that “strangers” do not always look scary; they can be any age, gender, race, size or occupation.

Tips for Parents

• Don’t put a key around children’s necks so they are visible. The key tells anyone the child will be home alone.
• Don’t give other people’s children candies or gifts without first speaking with their parents.
• Don’t allow children to display their name on clothing, jewelry or other items.
• Don’t allow children to go with other adults unless first meeting them.
• Don’t ignore commercial vehicles on residential streets. Most city ordinances require the removal of commercial vehicles by the end of the day but may need notification.
• Rehearse “what if” with children: “What if a nice person offers them a ride home?” “What if they are lost at the mall?” “What if a friend dares them to hitchhike?” “What if someone asks them for help?”
• Try to prepare children with knowledge without making them fearful.

9-1-1 New Jersey Coloring And Activity Book

Keeping children safe is an ongoing challenge that every parent faces. Only parents know their children and their abilities enough to decide what is right for them. Can you think of other actions to take to keep children safe? We would love to hear from you.

*Some of these tips were from a workshop given by Maureen Kanka, the mother of Megan Kanka.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Danist Soh & Unsplash Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Pete Petrash & Unsplash Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Safety | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Benefits of Good Manners


Self-confidence is inspired by having good manners and feeling comfortable in various situations. This gives kids an edge in school, in group activities, parties, among adults and other public arenas.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 2, 2015

As children grow, one of the best skills needed in life is good manners.

From the time children begin moving around on their own, they should be taught good manners by their parents. Manners are needed for a number of reasons, here are a few:

Good manners help with social development. Manners are a form of kindness that also teaches empathy toward others. These are all needed for an orderly society.

Manners teach children to be grateful instead of entitled. A child who demands things or privileges has no manners. The child that grows with ‘please, may I’ and ‘thank you’ learns to appreciate what they have.

Self-confidence is inspired by having good manners and feeling comfortable in various situations. This gives kids an edge in school, in group activities, parties, among adults and other public arenas. Good manners are appreciated by others.

Good manners shows respect for other people and that also teaches empathy. Respectful children tend to have self- respect as well.

Children who have good manners make a good impression. In a classroom full of children, the children most likely to be thought of first for recognition would probably be kids that are polite.

Many parents use well-mannered children as role models for their own children.

Heartfelt “Thank You” notes are treasured by the receivers and they say much about the giver.

A well-mannered child reflects positively on parents. Wherever a child goes, people notice a child with good manners and they understand they did not just happen, they must have been taught by their parents. Those parents rest assured that they have done well.

Parents of children with good manners may want to purchase ‘Thank You’ cards in bulk. By far, saying ‘thank you’ and sending ‘Thank You’ cards is one of the number one things a child should learn to do. The opportunities for ‘Thank You’ cards are endless: Gifts for any occasion, educators who taught and encouraged, librarians, mentors, coaches, bus drivers and so on.

Maya Angelou’s quote says it all:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

Can you think of other benefits of good manners? Check out the resource below.

Learning and Practicing Good Manners, Grades K-5

PHOTO: Courtesy of Palmer House Photography Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of University of Central Arkansas Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Customs, Traditions and Rituals


The preparation and consumption of particular foods at a special occasion is a time honored tradition and custom. If this is occurs during a religious observance then it is considered to be all three: Tradition, Custom and Ritual.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 26, 2015

Customs, Traditions and Rituals: What is the Difference and Why do Children Need Them?

Customs, traditions and rituals were always an interesting topic in the Freehold Parents Anonymous Group that I attended. I learned from the other parents there how important those activities were to children. I also had a hard time understanding the difference so I made a note to myself and tucked it into a folder and found it while cleaning recently:

Customs: Habits; what we do in a specific circumstance.
• On my birthdays, my father turned me over his knee and smacked my bottom once for each year then pinched me saying “and a pinch to grow an inch”.
• When Mr. Ramirez was away on weekends for school, I picked up pizza or Chines take out and the girls and I relaxed, played games and watched movies.
• Instead of Christmas, we held a family sleepover every December 24th.
• During thunder storms, while we had the TV unplugged, the girls would take turns reading short stories to us.

Traditions: Handing down of beliefs, legends, information and customs.
• Immediate family members – aunts, uncles, cousins – all drew names to save money on gifts. Everyone still bought gifts for the grandparents and children.
• Spanking my daughters and pinching them the same as my father did makes this custom a tradition.
• I share stories with the girls that my grandparents told and they probably got some of those from their parents.
• Mr. Ramirez shared stories and legends he heard from his Peruvian relatives when everyone got together.

Christmas ornaments like this one are part of a ritual observance. The annual tree decorating is a time honored custom. This ornament may be a family tradition that is passed down to the eldest child.

Rituals: Long-set procedures for religious and other rites.
• Christmas was celebrated with a decorated tree, presents, going to church.
• As a child we received communion at our church believing the wine (grape juice) and unleavened bread to be the body and blood of Christ.

By having traditions in a family, children know what to expect from time to time; the participation in activities around family enriches the history with each generation. Children benefit from belonging to something bigger as in a piece of a jig saw puzzle.

Parents can start new customs and revive traditions at any time. Family traditions can be woven into holidays such as the family going out in the woods at Christmas to cut down a tree together. Here are a few customs and traditions that I’ve learned about in my Parents Anonymous Group and from others:

• A mother marks a daughter’s move into womanhood with a slap to the cheek on the start of her menstrual cycle “to bring the blood back to the cheeks”.
• A Philippine neighbor of mine keeps coins sprinkled along the walkway to her front door for good luck. The first time we visited her, Chelsey picked up all the coins and presented them to the woman who laughed and explained.
• Many parents do something special for children’s first day back to school. Before Katie and Chelsey went off to college, I used to treat myself once the children were in school with breakfast out and a book-shopping trip.
• For a time, I celebrated my birthday by sending flowers to my mother, until her death.
• Visitors new to a person’s house used to give the youngest child present a coin.
• A step father used to buy a special present for his step children.
• A family used to make their own molasses outdoors every fall. It was more than a chore, it was an annual event.
• Hiking a location on specific dates or holidays or taking a photograph at a particular time of year.

Across the country and around the world, most children take part in an annual, informal tradition of dressing in a favorite outfit to begin the new school year. Most carry new backpacks filled with new pencils, new notebooks and other new gear to symbolically mark a new beginning.

My cousin Tina says they make plates of cookies or candies to take to neighbors, especially senior citizens, for one time each season (4 times a year). They also stay for coffee or tea with some to visit for a while.
• My friend Ana’s grandmother served herb Louisa tea and homemade cookies for every birthday, Christmas and other important holidays. (Louisa tea is sold under several names, the most common being lemon verbena, and sold as loose leaves or tea bags.)
• Tina’s father made homemade ice cream every Sunday; something she misses since his death.
• Many open only one present the night before Christmas day or before going to church Christmas Eve night.
• June remembers helping her mother make “Sunday Sauce” with meat with a recipe she still uses today. Being of Italian descent, her family made their own sauce; she never heard of or tasted the commercial jarred sauce until late childhood.

These customs, traditions or rituals link one generation to the next and foster a certain social pride and family closeness. Parents are the ones to take the lead to begin these activities in a child’s life. What kind of customs, traditions or rituals do you know of?

PHOTO: Courtesy of Unsplash & Todd Quackenbush.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Scott Tucker Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Blau Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Holidays, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Breathing to Calm Myself


A few examples when calmness is needed are when driving a car, on the telephone, dealing with the public and disciplining children.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 19, 2015

Getting calm when I was angry was difficult but it was important for my children to be safe.

Anger used to slip up on me until I learned to recognize the signs. 1-2-3 and I was ready to spit nails. For me it was an increase in heartrate, shallow breathing and a tightening feeling in my chest. There was no single event that would make me angry; it was an accumulation of things throughout the day. (Other parents in my group reported headaches and a pounding feeling in their heads; a few said their blood pressure would go through up.)

By attending Parents Anonymous regularly I picked up several things that helped; one is called Pursed Lip Breathing, also called the Two-Four Purse. This also helped me during asthma attacks when I would get anxious, something I had to overcome as an asthmatic.

Pursed lip breathing works to improve the exchange of gasses in the lungs; when I was anxious or angry, gasses in my lungs were out of balance from shallow breathing. I learned to breathe in slowly and count to two and breathe out to the count of four and repeat. Counting to four pushes the carbon dioxide out and the count of two brings in new oxygen. (Puckering your lips when blowing outward can help.)In a short time I would begin to feel more calm and in control. By practicing the Two-Four Purse breathing technique, it helped me let kids be kids while I regained control of myself.

This short video with Anne Crump can be helpful in calming; her count is four breaths to six but the method is the same.

A Calming Breathing Exercise (4:30)

During your day – watching TV, interacting with your children or driving in traffic – pay attention to your breathing. When the jerk cuts you off in traffic and honks, begin the Two-Four Purse and focus on remaining calm. Do what works for you!

PHOTO: Courtesy of Eutah Mizushima & Unsplash.
PHOTO: Courtesy of TheSomervilleFoundation & Anne Crump Under CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Is The Number One Life Skill Kids Need?


Access to reading material early on will nurture a lifelong love of reading; reading is also a predictor of success.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 12, 2015

If you had to choose only one skill for your child to become proficient in, which skill would you choose?

Discussing life skills recently, I was asked which life skill I thought was most needed by kids. My first reaction was between money management and nutrition. Money is important; creating a budget and long-term plan for how they spend their money could mean success or failure. Then again I thought about nutrition skills; that would include budgeting, shopping, meal planning and preparation. Health is important to long-term health and diet plays an important role in that.

When parents read on a regular basis and discuss things they read with their children, they tend to have kids who become readers.

Thinking about my daughters, Chelsey and Katie, I realized that reading skills had served them well so far. In every single class they studied, reading was the primary skill needed to do well: Math, social studies, health, science and so on. Reading also helped them read directions from one place to another, to cook almost any new recipe, write a letter or create a resume. By far, reading is my #1 life-skill choice.

How can parents encourage reading in children?

Read to children when they are very young, even babies. There are some who believe babies in utero hear sounds and enjoy the spoken word so there is no wrong time to begin reading to children.

Parents foster a love of reading by allowing kids to read whatever they are drawn to: books, magazines, or comics and so on.

Be a role model; let children see you reading. Read often and share what you learned during mealtime: Read books, newspapers, magazines, manuals and so on.

Give children books at every opportunity and let friends and relatives know that books are appreciated. Cost should not hinder kids from reading; Yard sales, secondhand shops and library discard sales are a few money-saving ideas. Children owning their own books can raise their self-esteem.

Give Kids what they want to read. Parents may prefer “War and Peace” but giving children materials they want to read and are interested in is a good place to start. As minds blossom, so will their choices in material. Getting kids reading is the goal.

Listen to them summarize material. Younger kids want parents to be as excited about their stories as they are. Ask questions and get their take on the characters and situations and ask ‘what if’ questions.

Older children can read to younger children and both benefit with practice and learning. (Kids reading to each other helps their relationships.)

Set aside time for reading. It is easier to schedule reading than to crunch out a few minutes between school and other activities. Reading can give kids valuable ‘alone time’ to relax, to think and to wonder about the world and their place in it.

Take reading further. When my daughters read “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor, I brought home a coconut, drained the milk for them to try and we cooked with coconut. Doing that with every book might seem daunting but for some stories, it adds a flavor kids will remember for years.

Use technology and e-readers. For those that embrace gadgets, there are tablets, computers and Kindles for reading. There are also many free and paid e-books if you and your child prefer.

Encourage others to join in. Getting a friend to share a book discussion can be fun. Allowing children to explore ideas and values is a great way to broaden friendships.

Joke and riddle books, comics, magazines, short stories and such are suggested bathroom reading material that can be completed in one sitting.

Make use of the one-seat library. There, I said it. Bathrooms without reading material are very boring places; there’s nothing printed on the paper so bring your own. Having a few interesting magazines can transform that little room with little spurts of reading. Joke and riddle books, comics, magazines, short stories and such are suggested bathroom reading material that can be completed in one sitting. Serious readers tend to lose track of time with novels so a clock or timer should be readily available.

Reading is a lifelong activity and children can begin at any age. No matter what children do when they become adults, reading will support them in their journey. Do you have other suggestions for getting kids to read?

PHOTO: Courtesy of Cheriejoyful Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of GlobalPartnership for Education Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Empire’s Comics Vault Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Neil Hester Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Sushiesque Under Flicker/CC License.e6

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Back-To-School Tips


Having a clock of their own gives children ownership of their scheduling and helps develop self reliability. Parents will want to guide kids until they can fully assume the responsibility.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 5, 2015

Back-to-school time is lurking just around the corner (Wipe those smiles off your faces!) and is a favorite time of year for me, too.

Many schools send kids home with summer assignments or schoolwork in preparation for the next school year: read a book, write an essay, work on a word list, etc. It’s a good idea to speak with your child on the status of their assignment progress while there is still time.

There are several organizing items that can be handy for kids to use but my favorite are:

Alarm clocks can be an important step in responsibility for any child. If it is a clock radio they can set the time to wake up and also use the sleep timer to listen to music while falling asleep at night.

Calendars are good for planning school projects and keeping track of school events. It’s also a good way for kids to see their schedule and write notes for themselves like ‘return Joey’s bat’ or ‘send thank you to grandma.’

Having a calendar of their own helps children see the big picture; they become more confident as they begin to plan their own activities.

Bulletin boards, dry-erase boards or blackboards keep a household running well. Use it for messages, items to buy, appointments, math problems, diagrams and so on.

Sticky note pads are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Need to give kids a message, use a sticky note. Mark pages in a book with sticky notes. Stick a reminder on the front door for the children. There are more uses than you or I can imagine.

Personal files with folders can help deal with the flood of papers being lost or misplaced. Giving kids ownership of their papers and responsibility of managing them can increase self-esteem—not to mention ending the hassle of searching for things. It also takes a chore off your list, Mom and Dad! There are a dizzying variety of file containers to choose from: tall or short, wide or narrow, expensive or free cardboard box (empty detergent boxes are perfect).

Book Covers: Plastic yard goods work best and last longer but covering your child’s books with freezer paper is a good, cost-effective choice.

Plastic yard-goods are another favorite of mine. School books must be covered every year but the material is up to parents: paper, cloth or plastic. The cloth is expensive but it can be washed. Paper like freezer paper or shelf paper is cheaper but it tears. Plastic is not too expensive, is readily available, is waterproof and it’s clear.

Back to school also means buying clothing because kids grow. I read somewhere that August was the retailer’s biggest month. The good news is that thrift stores and secondhand and consignment shops do a booming business too. Yard sales save people a bundle too but they are harder to shop. The question here is whether or not your child will be a trend setter or a follower. The option is there, how much or little you buy is up to you—and your child.

The #1 tool to reduce back-to-school stress is (drum roll) getting everything ready the night before! The clothes, backpacks and lunches can all be readied at night before to prevent the morning madness. It’s the best sanity-saver and it doesn’t cost a penny.

Parenting Snippet:

Last weekend my youngest daughter Katie sent me a text with a photo of herself holding one of her power tools, looking rather tough:

“Just call me Capable Girl.”

I laughed to myself… Now where do you think she learned that?

I answered her text:

“Ha ha ha! Awesome! Signed, Capable Mom”

These are the moments that show that you have done a good job. She is doing a major move across three states on her own after teaching at a university. She’s taking another university position teaching art with her longtime partner that has taught there for the past year. Finally, their kitchen appliances will be reunited.

Have a great start to a new school year.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Sonja Langford and Unsplash.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Andreanna Moya Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Brandon Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Call Out Racism Where It Lives


Read and understand what you see on social media and think twice before you hit ‘share’: Is this something I understand and agree with? Does this fit comfortably with my religion? Would I be comfortable sharing this with people of other races, genders and faiths? Even if you agree with a message it may not be truthful.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 29, 215

For our children’s generation, what are the answers concerning what seems to be never-ending racism?

One of the answers unfolded in social media recently from start to finish with a friend of mine that I will call Robert. For a little background, Robert and I grew up in the same community in the South; his father was the principal of our school that encompassed kindergarten through 12th grade and was well loved and respected. Robert is a kind man and well respected, too, and serves as a link to his father and the deeper community. That should set the stage for what happened next.

Robert posted last week on his timeline saying that he avoids commenting on things that are of overtly political, racial, or inflammatory nature, but that he had come across a disturbing image. The image was posted by man that he knew that usually posted Christian scriptures at least once a day. The man’s post was of a black man holding a sign that resembled the ones he had seen from Ferguson protests, the sign read:

“No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he robs a store.”

Being suspicious, he looked further. He found the actual photo that had been edited in Photoshop; the original image carried these words:

“No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he leaves home.”

Robert thought about the situation and it bothered him. The image was all wrong; it was a fake. And for the man to have attached that to his timeline made it worse; he professed to be a Christian and was promoting a lie. He went back to the man’s social media page.

Robert called the man out and told him that the image had been created, not by the person holding the sign, but by someone with the cruel intention of inflaming whites and defaming blacks. He asked the man if he was misinformed or if he posted it intentionally. Robert also told the man that posting that image did not reflect Christian the values he claimed to have.

The man replied to Robert saying, “Things get posted and shared. I re-posted the photo and do not have the time to check everything that comes across my page. I had no way of knowing if it was photo shopped or not and really do not care.” The man stated that those were his feelings and that those were the feelings of a lot of his other white friends.

The conversation went downhill from there; this man began to turn all his frustrations and racism toward Robert. He was mad about the Confederate flag being removed, politicians, black activists and media. To finish that the man added that it was not Robert’s place to judge another person for any reason.

Robert vented on his page with grace and honesty: “In all of the man’s scripture quoting, he must have forgotten: “Thou shall not bear false witness.””

As I sat back and read the comments in support of Robert’s calling the man out, I saw a wonderful thing happen. I saw many people suddenly speak up and voice their views against hate and racism, something that many usually shy away from. Ignoring is the easy way out, but when folks ignore something it is viewed as complicity or in agreement. But that day, that one person made the difference and broke the pattern of quietly looking away.

For those of the Christian faith, ask yourself if you would be comfortable sharing a post on social media if Jesus was looking over your shoulder. What exactly would Jesus do?

My comment to Robert was about courage and strength and that his having stood up would give others the might and model to also face hate and racism when the need arises. Multiply that by the number of commenters and it shows their children that one person can make change happen – thus sets up a new pattern of behavior.

When the dust settled, Robert and the other man both deleted their respective posts. I hope the man learned from his encounter with Robert. And if he is indeed Christian, that he will review his moral code to define his values to reflect that faith.

Who are the racists? They are our friends and family, they are our bosses and people on the street. We are the cause and solution of racism. You and I can make a difference.

Tip for confrontation: Use “I” messages and keep to the facts. Avoid emotional, judgmental tones in your voice.

Our children are always watching; they are our best hope.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Aleksi Tappura via Unsplash.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Jack Pearce Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Racism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“YOU Are A Terrible Person!”


Saying “you” automatically puts children on the defensive and points toward blame.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 22, 2015

“You! You’re a terrible person! You are thoughtless and careless! You are no good!”

“You” is heard by the child as an attack or blame; that automatically puts a child on the defensive. The quote above is not what the parent actually said to the child; this was below.

“You forgot to put the tools away and they rusted; honestly, when will you ever learn to take care of things.”

Children may often misinterpret comments from a parent and read into it by inflection and facial cues. They hear one thing and think another. Effective communication is the key.

Eliciting cooperation in a positive manner teaches children without unnecessary blame.

Using “I” messages takes practice but it can truly change the direction of the conversation from blame to ‘what can we do about this’ to solve problems.

“Oh my, these tools are rusted; can you help me clean them up?”

Believe me; the child knows they left the tools out. They need not admit guilt for something like this; shame only drives negative feelings deeper. When negative emotions get involved it may take away from the lesson to be learned.

“I” messages help with other people as well: Spouses, co-workers, neighbors, friends, clerks, educators and so on.

Beginning with ‘you’ immediately targets a person for blame in these negative instances. In positive instances, using ‘you’ is helpful.

“You were helpful in working with me to remove the rust; I appreciate that.”

Can you see how this might change how a child might feel afterward? Put yourself in their shoes. Which manner would you prefer?

PHOTO: Courtesy of A2gemma Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Snowmentality Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Bragging Parents Not Welcome


Nancy was perfect – at least her mother thought so. Unfortunately, her mother’s bragging ruined many friendships for her and her mom.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 15, 2015

Everyone has known someone like this; the non-stop braggart with more tales of greatness than a hive has bees.

My mother had a friend who, when she pulled in the driveway, mom would groan and I wanted to hide. Gladys was actually a nice person if you could ever get her to stop talking about her daughter. At get-togethers you could watch her move about the rooms, butting in to talk about her daughter until those people walked away and then going to the next group to butt in again. According to Gladys, Nancy could do no wrong; she was brilliant and talented beyond belief. Nancy twirled and tossed a baton so well that their living room had to be redesigned to allow enough wall space for all of her hundreds of trophies. She twirled a fire baton at our county fair once and a mishap that could have left her scarred for life. Nancy attended a rival school and received A-plus grades in everything; she was surely going places in the world – she was perfect! *sigh*

The constant bragging made it seem as though Gladys stopped having a life the day Nancy was born and lived vicariously through her thereafter.

This is not about setting the story straight on Nancy; this is about parents correcting an annoying habit. There are many Gladys-type mothers (and fathers) out there that may not think talking about their children is all that bad. There are a few telltale signs that a parent is a braggart:

• They talk much more about their child than other parents.
• They have a difficult time talking about other children or other topics that are not about their child.
• They make other people uncomfortable by giving too much information about their child or family.
• They redirect conversation to their child or to themselves concerning their child.
• They tend to cut off other people’s conversation about anything.

Other parents seem to:

• Avoid them.
• Make excuses about leaving the area or not having time to talk with them on the telephone.
• Have full calendars so that no matter when the braggart wants to meet up, it doesn’t work with their calendar.
• Feel or look uncomfortable as the braggart continues to talk obliviously.
• Cannot seem to get a word in edgewise; when they mention their child, they are cut off and the braggart resumes tales of greatness.

There are people who completely miss or ignore social cues like body language and attempts to change the subject. They don’t understand why they have so few friends. My mother would never tell Gladys she was driving folks away so she usually gave her a short chore like peeling potatoes or watching the younger kids in hopes that the conversation would lead elsewhere. My mother wasn’t the only one experiencing this with Gladys, other friends expressed similar frustrations. But what can a parent do about a braggart?

Here are a few things to think about:

Realize that it is normal for parents to talk about their children. Sharing information and asking for input is the social norm. It is when the conversation is monopolized by one speaker that it becomes undesirable. Sharing milestones or major accomplishments

Conversation is a give-and-take process; chatting requires input from more than one person. In the Freehold Parents Anonymous group, we had a few parents over a matter of years that would sometimes monopolize group time. The facilitators and I discussed how to improve the flow of conversation so that every parent was able to use a portion of time. One of the most successful ways we found to curb the issue was to say, “Has everyone noticed how we get so engrossed in Xxxxx’s stories that we run out of time? Okay, it’s time to move on, next…” It was not judging a parent and brought attention to the sharing of time.

Comparing one child to another concerning skills or development is not good practice. All children are different; even siblings develop, learn and do things at different times. Just because one child reads by age three, it does not mean that another child is behind.

Mentally separate the parent from the child. An annoying parent who brags about their child should not affect how others treat or think about the child. Don’t blame the child for the actions of the parent.

Parents taking the credit for a child’s accomplishment can be even more annoying. Listeners can correct the bragging parent by saying, “Are you talking about your child’s or your accomplishment?” Sometimes bringing attention to the point can help a parent become aware of what they are doing.

Bragging has emotional and psychological roots that grow from an inner need. Parents and acquaintances are not expected to understand or correct another person’s issues. It is not your job to ‘fix’ anyone.

Grandparents are exempt from almost all bragging rules as long as they share time with other grandparents.

Grandparents often take bragging to a whole new level. I smile as I say that because I’ve known many who feel it is a necessary rite of passage when grandkids arrive on the scene. Grandkids change the rules… Think photo albums! With the myriad of technology at their fingertips, grandma and grandpa can brag until daybreak without skipping a beat. Bragging probably helps build those family ties we hear so much about.

When do you say ‘enough is enough’? Only the listeners can make that call. Is this a good friend or is it someone you have nothing in common with? If the friendship is worth salvaging then it may be a good idea to tactfully have a chat with the parent like this:

“Look, we enjoy each other’s friendship and I would like it to continue. But sometimes I feel as if you are competing with me through our children. For the friendship to continue in a healthy manner then the bragging has to stop. News is good; bragging is not. What do you say?”

The ball is now in their court. A habitual braggart may need reminding now and then if the hardcore bragging continues but if it doesn’t stop then it may be time to end the friendship. The choice:

“I am so glad we could continue our friendship; I appreciate how hard that was to stop bragging and truly want to commend your effort.”

Or

“I’m sorry but our friendship is not working out for me; I wish you all the best.”

In the end we all want to have friendships that are healthy for us and our children. Be a good example for your friends as well as your own children. And if you see Clara headed your way with a photo album, run for your sanity because by now, Nancy must have several perfect children.

*I never use real names.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Thomas Quine Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Evan Long Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Making the Best Use of Group Time


On the drive to the Parents Anonymous Group meeting I would plan how to discuss the issues that were most important to me.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 8, 2015

Having volunteered on the Helpline and been a group member for many years I was sometimes asked how Parents Anonymous works. That is when I then smile and reply, “It is the parents who attend the meetings who do the work.” Each parent is responsible for working on their own issues.

On my way to each meeting I would think of the previous week and make a mental note of any difficulties, struggles, successes or new information I wanted to share. By the time I arrived, I knew my goals for my portion of group time and the topics I wanted to bring up. Doing this beforehand helped me stay on topic better so that I would get more benefit from the group and not be sidetracked.

For myself, it also helped me to let the group members know what I wanted from the group. Sometimes I needed another parent’s opinion to gauge whether I was being too strict; growing up abused I could never be sure. At other times I was so emotionally drained that I couldn’t think so I would ask the group for ideas. And there were days when I just needed to vent my anger. Asking for what I needed also helped the group members respond in kind effectively.

Telling the group what my needs were each week saved us in precious group time— two hours sometimes seemed like half an hour. Sometimes other parents, not knowing what they needed, took longer to get their needs met. Occasionally, those members would use part of another member’s time and that would be unfair.

With larger member numbers another problem popped up— side conversations or whispering. Talking while a member was using their portion of time was annoying and rude. We talked about side conversations enough that most everyone was aware and respectful but being human as we were, we were all guilty at one time or another, even the facilitators.

All parents, grandparents and caregivers take charge of their issues to find solutions that work best for them.

“Can I see your Blue Book?”

“Did you sign in?”

“Hand me the article on meeting with teachers.”

“Do we have more coffee cups?”

“Here is the school fundraiser if you want to order.”

The Parents Anonymous state office sent Elaine and me to a workshop about running support groups where we met Ted Bowman, a support group guru from Minnesota. Ted was a wealth of information on support groups and he had a solution for every problem you could imagine. When he opened the floor to questions I asked how we could curb side conversations.

Ted smiled and said, “You have the answer right there; it takes two to have a conversation. You do not look at the person whispering to you, you focus on the person who has the floor. If you need to, you say to the whisperer, ‘This is important,’ and hold up a finger up to direct attention to the member who has the floor.”

Shortly after the workshop Elaine and I both had opportunities to try Ted’s method for quelling side conversations and it worked every time. Like many things I learned in my Parents Anonymous group, this skill translated well to other areas as well: auditoriums, plays and with any crowded group of people.

Parents Anonymous group members also learned to do periodic self-evaluations to check for improvement. Celebrating milestones and successes was a hallmark in most groups. Some of my successes were:

• Getting the school to make a change in my daughter’s class
• Reporting my husband to child protective services
• Getting Chelsey and then Katie off to college

Perhaps you could try some of these ideas for yourself? Let me know how it works for you.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Thiago Martins Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

 

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Parents Anonymous | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Edicts to Last a Lifetime


As any mother will tell you, walking after dark can be very risky behavior.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 1, 2015

As parents, we tend to sometimes feel that it’s useless to keep reminding children to do things that will keep them happy, safe and well.

“Wash your hands before you eat.”

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

“Look before you cross the street.”

“Cover your mouth before you sneeze or cough.”

“Don’t smoke or do drugs.”

“Eat your vegetables and try the ones you don’t like.”

“Don’t have sex before you are married.”

“If you have sex before you are married, use a condom.”

Oh if I only had a nickel for every time I have shouted, “Get down from there before you break your fool neck!”

Was I talking to hear myself yack on and on? No, I was probably overprotective to some degree but I felt it was all for my daughters’ benefit. Were all my efforts a waste of time?

Oh if I only had a nickel for every time I have shouted, “Get down from there before you break your fool neck!”

Climbing dresser drawers and riding a bicycle on a small deck took my breath from fear. Twirling a fork at dinner and hanging out the open bedroom window with no screen were less nerve wracking but a concern nonetheless. Were all my efforts for naught?

My daughter Katie texted me the other night about 10:30 p.m. last week saying she could hear me in her head. It seems she was walking home after shopping and probably second-guessed her errand.

“Always be aware of your surroundings,” she said.

Katie is my youngest and will be 29 soon. This hopeful message is for parents: As futile as it may seem, continue prodding and reminding your darlings and when they do go away from home, they will take your teachings with them.

Katie arrived at her home safe and sound far away while her mother worried. As tough as it is, I understand that we must all eventually let go.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Giuseppe Milo Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Gary Scott Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Discarded Wallet


Mr. Ramirez leaves a legacy for his daughters that they could never understand until they were out on their own – especially how deeply he loved them.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | June 17, 2015

Last year Mr. Ramirez did something he had been putting off for some time; he took the leap and bought a new wallet. He was about to throw the old one out and I stopped him, remembering my own father’s billfold and the interest it held for me with all its crevasses and contents.

“It’s falling apart, what could you want with that worn-out thing?” he questioned.

I turned gave him That Look.

My husband has daughters with obviously no clue what it is to be a daughter. I tucked the wallet in my desk where it remained until this week when I was cleaning. Seeing it again, with its edges worn smooth and my husband’s information tucked inside, brought up unexpected emotions. Anyone would see this as a used up money and credit card holder but what I saw was more than 35 years of living: Picking up staples on his way home, buying the crib for our daughter, buying books and school supplies for the girls, quick trips for pizza, putting gas in the car and so on.

Upon opening his wallet, the first thing my husband would see was the pictures of our four- and eight-year-old daughters dressed in similar outfits. Over the years I suggested new photos but he loved those familiar faces – one wearing glasses and the other without. I also look back to a time when we did not know that he has Asperger’s, where change of any kind is difficult and affection was never easy. His role in our family was often detached and set apart from us as if we were a family annex that he was responsible for, but not interested in.

Holding this worn-out wallet I understand that as difficult as our years were with Mr. Ramirez, we could count on him to be responsible, to keep a roof over our heads and to send both girls to college, even when he did not approve of their field of studies. In his own way, I believe that he has loved us in spite the fact that he does not understand what love is.

Mr. Ramirez’s wallet will be carefully wrapped in tissue then wrapped inside his threadbare work shirt, ink stained from his years as an engineer, and presented to our eldest and his firstborn daughter. I can only imagine her thoughts…

Happy Father’s Day!

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mr. R. and his old, discarded wallet.

Copyright © 2015 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

 

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mom vs. Dad Parenting Articles


Mothers and fathers do parent differently and those differences are equally valuable to a child’s growing-up experience.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | June 3, 2015

Parenting articles may target mothers or fathers but in reality, both should read them.

Just to remind everyone that even though an article’s title may say “Dads” or “Moms” or in any other way limits it to one group, that there are still gems of knowledge to be gleaned from it. Most parenting articles are aimed at mothers whether it states that or not. Fathers, though, are a narrower group and I do add parenting articles for ‘dad’ for that reason. In any case, I encourage mothers out there to read those ‘dad’ articles. By my reading articles targeting fathers, it helped me learn more about the father’s perspective in general and specifically in my own family.

As an example, take how a mother doles out chores and responsibilities. When the mother asks/tells the father to be responsible for the children (ages 5, 7 and 11) for the day, she needs to let go of that task and let the father own the day. If there are medical conditions or other situations that have special requirements then mom can educate dad about them and all the ‘what ifs.’ I read about this in an article, then experienced it my group; mom tells dad this:

“Honey, I have the shower to attend in North Jersey and I cannot bring the kids. You will have them all day long. At 10 a.m. William needs to go to the library; take Annie and Buddy with you and look at children’s books on dinosaurs. At 12:30 when you get them back home you need to wash their hands; libraries are very dirty. After that you need to feed them. William likes baloney with mustard, Annie will have a turkey sandwich and Buddy can make whatever he wants. And then…”

Fathers and mother both bring their skill sets into parenting; knowing of and sharing those abilities create an environment for success.

You can see where this is going, right? Mom wants to be in both places so she can feel like she has done a good job. But the big pink elephant in the room is that fathers are the other parent; they are equally capable of caring for, nurturing and feeding their offspring. Dads might seem to need help in the beginning because mom has run the show for so long. But once dad has owned his parent authority, he may surprise you.

Dad may go to the library but he may just as well want to take the children for fast food. Then dad may take the children for a hike or out on a boat. If dad is doing the parenting work, let him figure it out. If there are appointments that must be met like birthday parties, scout meetings, tutoring session and so on, they should be on the family calendar. Both parents need to be able to take over at a moment’s notice. Mom may very well wonder why she waited so long.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mo Elnadi Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Courtney Hansen Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Toddler Tantrums: Parent Survival Tips


There may be no apparent reason for a tantrum and toddlers seem to have super-human strength and endurance during an episode.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | May 20, 2015

Toddlers can sometimes require the patience of a saint and the wisdom of the Dali Lama to find healthy solutions.

When Chelsey was born I spent months dreading the terrible twos. I had heard two-year-olds spent sometimes a year or more lying flat on their backs, screaming and kicking and more often than not, it would happen in public where there was no place to hide. I was mortified because of my uncontrollable anger issues and I was truly worried for Chelsey as well as myself.

As the terrible twos hit full force, I was still not ready and did not find a Parents Anonymous meeting for another five years. Whatever I did do, my goal was not to hurt Chelsey so that meant putting space between the two of us, usually in the form of a child gate or door. Today I might have done things differently, but looking back, I think I did the right thing. Twenty years in the field has taught me things that may help others.

First of all, parents need to understand a few simple things:

• Terrible twos are not forever; it is a normal stage of development that can only be remedied with the passing of time.
• There may be no apparent reason for a tantrum and toddlers seem to have super-human strength and endurance during an episode.
• Toddlers do not manipulate parents even though it may seem that way.
• Toddlers get frustrated easily in part because they have not gained the vocabulary and cognition to express those feelings.
• Toddlers can be upset because their physical abilities have not met desires.
• Toddlers do not tantrum because they dislike their parents.
• Toddlers do not set out to ‘push parent’s buttons’ or to ‘get parents upset.’
• If a toddler is having tantrums it means they are healthy and on schedule developmentally.
• Toddlers are all about their own wants and needs.
• It is normal to get anxious, upset or angry during a child’s tantrum. The sounds are part of the reason tantrums are so upsetting: Screaming, shrieking and crying.

Toddlers are just beginning to explore their world and learn how it reacts to them. Toddlers often become frustrated when they cannot communicate or physically do something and a tantrum results. As their vocabulary and physical abilities grow, the tantrums will usually diminish.

Toddlers tend to whine and demand attention so that in time, parents may question if they will ever be able to go to the bathroom or shower alone. Toddler behavior is unpredictable and their moods can change quickly; they may seem happy one moment and then quite fearful the next. Toddlers can also be very negative, annoying and often overuse the word ‘no.’ They tend to use words they do know best and then no matter what you say, their reply will be ‘no.’ Parents should not worry; by the time they have figured their child out they will have moved into the next stage in development.

TIP: Rephrase communications to say ‘yes’ more often and limit the word ‘no.’ Instead of ‘no you cannot have the knife’ say ‘yes you can play with ladles and spatulas.’

Toddlers also have an enormous capacity to be adorable and display affection. Another Parents Anonymous member once said that the more difficult time a parent has at the terrible-twos stage, the easier they would have it with them as a teenager. True or not, it helps to think of the positive aspects of this age.

At Home

Redirecting is a good way to head off a tantrum in the early stages. Instead of focusing on the child, you can pay attention to something else like a box or other item while encouraging your child to come to you. If you have a small box (a cereal box, gift box, etc.) you can look inside and then close the box quickly, with or without a surprise inside. Open the box again then looking into the box, look surprised, then close it again. By now you have piqued their interest and successfully changed your child’s mood from frustration to curiosity.

When beginning to tantrum, if a child is at risk of hurting themselves, parents can pick them up and hold them on their lap for a short time. I do not recommend this if parents are upset, frustrated or angry and could lose control. If they are kicking the parent, it is a good idea to put them gently on the floor, move away to allow ample room and then let the tantrum run its course.

Whispering or talking in a very soft voice can sometimes defuse a child’s tantrum in the same way that screaming or yelling back at the child can fuel a tantrum. I cannot say this enough; yelling or threatening does not help! Yelling or spanking only serves to vent a parent’s anger and can only make matters worse. Yelling or hitting teaches children to hit and can damage a healthy relationship between parent and child. A parent screaming is frightening to a child and could damage the child’s hearing and the parent’s vocal cords. Interacting with your child during a tantrum by yelling, screaming or hitting gives negative attention to a child and may increase the duration and number of tantrums.

If parents feel they are at risk of losing control then they should put space between them and their child. Parents can go to the bathroom or bedroom and close the door and then listen or watch to make sure the child is safe. Using a child gate can give the parent and child space and parents can easily see that the child is safe.

Parents can call another parent who has experienced toddler tantrums to talk for a few minute to compare notes; perhaps they can discover what triggered the outburst and devise a plan to offset the next one or a way to successfully handle it. Parents can ask to call that parent again when they need support. Better yet; go to a Parents Anonymous meeting and discuss tantrums and other issues with other parents that understand what the parent is experiencing. Parents would get many practical tips and suggestions for the next tantrum event.

Parents can call a 1-800 helpline or ‘warm-line’ in their area— in New Jersey the Helpline number is: 1-800-843-5437 or 1-800-THE-KIDS. Put the number in speed-dial or in your cell phone for quick access.

Outside New Jersey, parents can call the National Parent Helpline to get emotional support from a trained Advocate in their area and become an empowered and a stronger parent: 1-855- 4A PARENT (1-855-427-2736) 10:00 a.m. PST to 7:00 p.m.

The Screaming

The sound of screaming sends alarm signals to our brains and as it continues our heart rate and respiration rate increase. These signals indicate danger or the fight-or-flight response. Understanding our physical response to noise may help parents remain calm. To offset a child’s screaming it may help for parents to put earplugs in their ears or to listen to a portable music player like an iPod or Walkman to drown out the noise. Increase the volume only enough to counter the screaming being careful not to damage hearing. There are hearing protectors available for purchase from about $3 for foam inserts to $10 and up for earmuffs.

Here is a link to an article about noise in the home with helpful resources:

What’s the Volume of Your Home?

In Public

Parents should plan a trip out for shopping, errands, appointments, and so on, when children are well-rested and well-fed. Make sure the child is not sick, check for a fever and look for any clues they may not feel well. Parents can make children aware of the itinerary, where they are going, how long they will be there and when they will leave. Young children have little concept of time so introducing a timer or watch may or may not help. Parents can give the child a job to do like ‘look for the color blue’ or ‘look for the cereal’ to keep them occupied. Parents in my Parents Anonymous group gave children a shopping list (pictures cut out of a magazine and pasted onto 3” x 5” cards) so they feel like they are helping – something toddlers love to do.

Parents should be aware of ‘escape routes’ or where they will go if your child begins a tantrum. When children begin to tantrum it is a good idea to take them out of the immediate area by temporarily moving to a quiet, low-traffic area of the store or a restroom. If parents cannot move them out of the area then they should remain calm and stay nearby. If all else fails, parents may prefer to leave the store and take the child home. Cause and effect: If the shopping trip ends before it is completed then parents will not have the treats or other items. Children will eventually understand this and develop more self-control.

In public we have added pressure of an audience. Follow through on what you know has worked in the past. Ignore unkind people who say things like “We knew how to fix that!” or “That child needs a good beating!”

• Avoid places that may encourage a tantrum (candy or toy aisle, amusements).
• Bring a snack and something to drink (water is preferred over sugary juices).
• Bring a toy or two that toddlers only play with while parents shop.
• Limit the amount of time the child is out; shopping for hours on end is asking too much of a toddler.
• Arrange appointments when the child will not be tired or hungry.

Self-control is a process; congratulate the child when they are (finally) able to get control of themselves and calm down.

Mealtime Maniacs

If a toddler begins a tantrum during a meal and throws food on the floor or at others, parents should not take it personally. Parents might assume the child is either telling them they are not hungry, do not like the taste, temperature or texture of the food. End the meal for the toddler; parents can cover and refrigerate the remaining food to have at the next mealtime. Do not offer food prior to the next mealtime. Parents would want to see that there are no snacks or sweets available during this time. Limit sugar-laden juices in favor of water only or watered-down juice. A 75 to 25 percent water to juice ratio is preferable to all juice brands; natural sugars are still sugar.

As for the food thrown on the floor, toddlers cannot clean up food messes as punishment because they have not developed those fine motor skills just yet. Instead of using a smooth, scooping and wiping motion, the toddler is more likely to use a back-and-forth motion which may actually spread the mess farther. Parents will need to clean up the mess to make sure there are no slippery, greasy spots or food remaining. Parents can teach toddlers how to begin cleaning up by starting with books and toys. As the child grows parents can add other chores, not as a punishment, but as an active member of the family.

Final thoughts:

Congratulate the child when they are (finally) able to get control of themselves and calm down.
(It’s hard being a kid.)

Remember who the adult is with the ability to control themselves.
(Fake it till you make it.)

Parents should not negotiate with a child; parents are the adult.
(If you ever pay a ransom, each time the ransom will increase.)

Parents should not let children ‘win’ during a tantrum by losing control themselves.
(Always follow the rules.)

Parents should never threaten what they cannot or will not follow through on.
(Meaningless threats weaken a parent’s authority.)

Never let them see you sweat.
(Appear completely uninterested.)

Parents should model the behavior they want their child to emulate.
(Parents should pat themselves on the back for keeping calm.)

“No” should always mean “no.”
(Kids catch on quick to the “no” sometimes meaning “maybe.”)

Yelling louder does not help a young child understand.
(That also goes for aliens from planet Zargamuk too.)

First and last, remain calm.
(Do not get upset and do not take frustration out on a child.)

Revised from May 16, 2013

PHOTO: Courtesy of Christine Szeto Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Justin Henry Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parental Perspectives


Weigh the value of things against your child and like mine, your children are going to win out.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | May 6, 2015

Perspectives can change our emotional responses dramatically.

Human beings are emotional creatures and being a parent often magnifies those feelings. Watching a nameless child hit a home run is not nearly as exciting as watching your own child hit a run. A child failing miserably on a science test is no big deal either until it is your child.

Looking back at my own parenting fails, I cringe yet thinking about things I may have said as I discovered vegetables stashed between cushions or a video with its film pulled out into a pile. “Oh my God look what you did!”

I think of those wide-eyed faces of my little girls not knowing what might come next. I cannot bring myself to think how scared they must have been and how this moment was imprinted into their memories. I wonder, did I get to Parents Anonymous soon enough?

A friend’s child ruining their carpet may bring empathy but if it were your child and your home it could be very upsetting.

From attending the Parents Anonymous support meetings I learned there are ‘safety-net tricks’ a parent can put in place to prevent those ‘Oh my God’ moments. One trick I used was the image of Lady Justice with her scales of truth and fairness that would weigh the value of my child against any object or incident like my favorite yellow plate that was broken, the black paint that was spilled on the new mauve carpet or my daughter’s name scratched into the paint on my new car.

Without a doubt, folks, when I compare the value of my child with an object, accident, or mistake, believe me, my child is going to come out on top, hands down. Nothing will ever mean as much to me as my children.

Have you ever discovered a damaged item or mess caused by your child? Just how mad were you? Were you angry enough to need a safety-net trick? Do you have anger issues? You find yourself getting angry or upset at things of small importance. Your heart pounds, respiration increases and adrenaline floods your veins. Count to ten – to a hundred by twos. Got your safety net in place?

You can never be too prepared.

WEEKLY QUOTATIONS: Boldness

Put a grain of boldness into everything you do. ~Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish

Freedom lies in being bold. ~Robert Frost

He who finds Fortune on his side should go briskly ahead, for she is wont to favor the bold. ~Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish

Boldness is a mask for fear, however great. ~John Dryden

I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little the more, as I grow older. ~Michel de Montaigne, translated

If the light in your life has changed to yellow, I recommend you floor it. It’s safer than the alternative. ~Jeb Dickerson

He was a bold Man, that first eat an Oyster. ~Jonathan Swift

Few novels or plays could exist without at least one troublemaker in the group, and perhaps life couldn’t either. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moderation is a fatal thing; nothing succeeds like excess. ~Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance, 1894

The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly. ~Theodore Roosevelt

But the fruit that can fall without shaking
Indeed is too mellow for me.
~Mary Wortley Montagu, The Answer

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jess Loughborough Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Michael Geminder Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Marvin Marshall’s Discipline Without Stress


By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | May 13, 2015

Many parents struggle to find the perfect method for bringing up children with the least amount of aggravation as possible. Oh, and it has to be simple. With my own children, I used a mishmash of various ideas that seemed practical to me – as long as it was non-violent. My mantra… “Do what works.” After my girls were almost grown I found every parent’s dream – Dr. Marvin Marshall.

Dr. Marvin Marshall is one of my favorite child discipline professionals today. His focus is not on getting kids to obey, the approach is on getting children to become more responsible without coercion. His methods can help many parents but it requires learning and thought. From what he says in the newsletter I believe he takes questions from parents as well. Here are three short snippets from Dr. Marvin Marshall’s latest newsletter I would like to share these gems with you:

Dr. Marvin Marshall – Discipline Without Stress for Teachers and Parents

PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY

REQUEST:

How would you use reflective questions with a seriously disordered youngster, say conduct-disordered or even anti-social personality disorder, to encourage them to reflect on their behaviors, and, hopefully, begin a better plan.

MY RESPONSE:

Start by asking a series of questions where the student will reply “Yes.” Examples:

“Would you like to be in charge of what you do?”
“Would you like to have your teacher give you a choice of what to do?”
“Would you like to have a friend or two whom you can talk with when you feel bad?”

Then ask, “What needs to change to have these happen?”

Elicit a response. Then collaboratively develop a procedure (it can be a visual one) so that the youth knows exactly what to do if the situation in question occurs again. And if it does–and we know it will–then reference can be made to the procedure. If necessary, collaboratively develop another procedure. Persevere!
You may want to add a phrase I use at the end of my presentations: “Extend Yourself!”

DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS (DWS)

When dealing with young people, the advantage of giving three (3) options is that it reduces all coercion. This is especially the case with the “passive-aggressive” or “oppositional-defiant.” These young people often get their “power” by resisting. When three options are in play, the perception of coercion disappears. (So often these young people are prompted by “counterwill”–the natural human tendency to resist control of any kind.)

The conversation goes like this, “Would you rather complete the form by yourself, with someone to help you, or what would you suggest?” Usually, I would give two options and then say, “Or what would you suggest?”

The point is that with so many people, offering two (2) choices is still felt to be coercive. Offering three choices–especially if the third is elicited from the student–significantly reduces the feeling of being coerced or controlled.

PARENTING

Some young people are spending an inordinate amount of time watching television or playing with technical devices. When the situation is such where you believe these excessive activities are not in their best interest, ask, “How will this make you happier or a more responsible person?”

Here are two recent Marvin Marshall newsletters:

Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – APRIL 2015

Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – March 2015

Please sign up for Dr. Marvin Marshall’s monthly, informative newsletter and you will not be disappointed.

NOTE: Dr. Marvin Marshall and I have no financial arrangement other than my buying a few books. I recommend his newsletter because the FREE tips have enormous value for parents. His method has many reviews and testimonials that can be viewed on his website.

PHOTOS: All images courtesy of Dr. Marvin Marshall.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Snooping, Yes or No?


Should a parent investigate their children’s activities by spying on them and rummaging through their belongings?

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 29, 2015

To snoop or not to snoop, that is the question. Is it nobler to turn a blind eye or should you become a detective?

In Parents Anonymous meetings, parents had many lively, informative discussions on a myriad of topics. This time it was snooping and whether or not it is advisable to spy on our children.

Two parents agreed that snooping would be wrong under any circumstance and would never entertain the idea. One said she never enters her daughter’s room without knocking first and when putting away clean, folded laundry she leaves her clothes in a basket by the door.

“Do we teach our children to be honest and trusting by sneaking around through their belongings? I don’t think so,” the mom said.

Good point well put; trust and honesty are important values to consider but some parents felt differently with their own views.

Snooping or spying is much like spanking in that parents either support it or they don’t, there is usually no middle ground. Another mom said she does knock before entering her children’s rooms but if the children are not present she will look through papers or peek inside drawers, more out of curiosity than suspicion.

Should parents obey their children and stay out or should they take that to be a warning sign that something is wrong?

“How else would I know what they are into? Do I respect my kids? Yes. Do I trust them? No, they are only human,” she said, “And they are just kids!”

If there were a middle ground I may have been on it. I was never the parent that says, “Oh no, not my child!” and I felt like I was ready for just about anything when it came to my girls. I was pretty busy with work, the house and our schedules so I really would not take time to snoop… unless there were a red flag and a good reason to make time.

Kids may swear, draw pictures of naked people and tell dirty jokes, that’s normal stuff kids do. Girls chatter about other girls and the ‘cute’ boy in row three. They talk about the teacher they think doesn’t like them and sometimes wish they would get the flu and a substitute would be assigned – all normal. In fact the more you smile reading this, the less likelihood there is a problem.

One day when I was putting away laundry I opened Katie’s drawer and pushed clean socks into something cold and clammy; it felt like a dead animal and I immediately took a step back. Pulling the socks out slowly I was genuinely shocked to find a partially-eaten one-pound block of mozzarella cheese between socks and underwear. Katie loved mozzarella cheese and since I let them choose their own breakfast or snacks, she picked cheese the previous day and forgot it in the drawer – a true eye-roll moment.

Items found in laundry were sometimes a first clue to look further. More often than not my snooping ended there but I would always keep my eyes open. From other members in my group I occasionally heard about drugs, tobacco, shoplifting, having sex and other things in group so I was determined not to be the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand.

When thinking about spying, I always considered their age and my role as a parent – to guide and supervise. If I turned a blind eye to any red flags wouldn’t that be the same as allowing my child to make adult choices like using illegal substances or having sex?

When it was pointed out to me that the room belonged to my child I explained my view, “My child does not pay the mortgage – I do. The room belongs to us but we allow them stay there rent-free until they are eighteen.”

I am also responsible for my children until they are eighteen and I think I have the right to decide if they get a pet snake, join a gang or set up shop as a drug dealer. I would want to know if my child has illegal fireworks, the makings for a bomb or a handgun. Because what my children can do also affects me until they are eighteen that makes me legally responsible.

In the end, every parent has to take into consideration all the pros and cons and to make a decision that works best for their own family. Katie and Chelsey are grown now but as for my family, yes, I would probably snoop again – but only if there were red flags. Trust is one thing being willfully blind is another.

Tell me your thoughts on the matter. I am genuinely curious what other parents do and how they make the decision.

WEEKLY QUOTATIONS

Be entirely tolerant or not at all; follow the good path or the evil one. To stand at the crossroads requires more strength than you possess. ~ Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856)

The highest result of education is tolerance. ~ Helen Keller (1880 – 1968), ‘Optimism,’ 1903

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ~ George Bernard Shaw

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

To say the least, a town life makes one more tolerant and liberal in one’s judgement of others. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), Hyperion, 1839

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. ~ Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931)

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. ~ Frederick Douglass

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. ~ Barack Obama

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. ~ Ralph W. Sockman

Once lead this people into war and they will forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. ~ Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924)

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

PHOTO: Courtesy of Paurian Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Emma Craig Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Parents Anonymous | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Chores: Let Kids Do What Works


Saying there was only one way to do a job excluded any modification, even if the change saved time or money.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 22, 2015

My grandmother Mur used to say, “There is more than one way to skin a cat,” and she was right.

This past weekend I came up with a new way to do my work that will save me time. I was so pleased with myself that I thought about my father and wished he could see what I have managed to accomplish in my life. You see, when I was young, my father often repeated his mantras:

“There is only one way to do a job and that is the right way.”

“Do a job once and do it right the first time.”

“Use the right tool to fit the job.”

“For every job there’s a tool.”

As I thought about him, I acknowledged his work ethics and success in business. He was a hard worker and he stood behind the completed work; if something broke down he would come and fix it within hours and not charge a dime. As a father, though, he was rigid and unforgiving, even when he was wrong.

My father’s words seemed wise at the time but what it was doing was limiting any creativity and modification. If you did not do things his way you were lazy – it was that simple. I was riding along our electric fence cutting weeds and making repairs once and used a rock to drive a nail in a fence post. The scolding that earned me really deflated my feeling of accomplishment; I thought he would be happy for my ingenuity – instead, I felt really dumb.

When I had my own children I tried to always remember what I learned from my father and to allow leniency in the way my daughters accomplished an assignment or chore. My concern was the final product, not the process, unless it was something like laundry. In laundry, if you throw anything red in the washer you are going to have pink everything including business shirts when they were formerly white, gray or light blue. (Yes they really did! Thank goodness Rit makes a great color remover. After this incident I typed up step-by-step directions for our laundry.)

This weekend was an affirmation for me that I did have skills for organizing and efficiency. I am also pretty good at repairing and inventing things. When I worked for Kmart many years ago, the corporate office paid me for two separate suggestions I sent in that were adopted into stores across the country. Some years after that I sent tips into Wood, a carpentry magazine, that I was paid for and published. When Gmail was in its infancy I joined Gmail Labs; I sent in two suggestions that were adopted by them. The Gmail team of engineers snail-mailed me a “Black Belt Cheat Sheet” to show their appreciation.

Around home I have built and repaired things that have stood the test of time. The deck I replaced needs a new coat of paint now but is as solid as the first day I built it. The water filter was hard to open so I created a wooden key that would not scratch the refrigerator and it worked. I could go on and on but the best validation of my skills is what comes from my husband who says I would have been a great technician and Mr. Ramirez never flatters.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about giving kids clear instructions and that was to get them started. Parents should know their children’s abilities enough so that once they have completed a task a few times, and kids understand the end result, that they can give kids ownership of the chore and allow kids to modify the process that may save time, money or made the job safer. Let children experiment and explore; that is how they learn to do things. Also, by giving kids ownership of the work they do, parents show they have confidence and trust in them.

Related topic: Instructions: Be Clear and Concise

Unrelated Anecdote

One of my jobs as a child was to use an old-fashioned can opener to open cans; you had to jab a hole in the top of the can and cut the lid off incrementally with stab-cut wrist motions which left the lid and opening sharp, jagged and dangerous. After I left home one of the first things I bought for myself was a Swing-A-Way can opener. I was so happy with it that on my first trip home I took one to my mother – who promptly told me it was a waste of money and was for lazy people. I know now, though, that it was not about the can opener. On my next visit home months later my mother showed me her Swing-A-Way can opener and how easily it opened cans. She evidently forgot that it was me who gave it to her.

*sigh* I still have that original stab-cut can opener; don’t ask me why.

Old-fashioned can openers required users to jab a hole in the top of the can and cut the lid off incrementally with stab-cut wrist motions which left the lid and opening sharp, jagged and dangerous.

WEEKLY QUOTATIONS: Humorous

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. ~Author Unknown

An expert is a man who tells you a simple thing in a confused way in such a fashion as to make you think the confusion is your own fault. ~William Castle

I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. ~Elayne Boosler

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. ~Charles Schulz

The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away. ~Tom Waits, Small Change

A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized. ~Fred Allen

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. ~Charles Schulz

The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family. ~Jerry Seinfeld

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes. ~Jack Handey

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. ~John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went

All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific. ~Jane Wagner, The Search For Intelligent Life In The Universe, performed by Lily Tomlin

Anybody can win, unless there happens to be a second entry. ~George Ade

I plan on living forever. So far, so good. ~Author Unknown

Humor is a reminder that no matter how high the throne one sits on, one sits on one’s bottom. ~Taki

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jason Rhode Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of VasenkaPhotography Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Parents Taking Liberties


Familiarity gave the mother of Katie’s friend permission to hit her daughter and embarrass her in front of friends.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 15, 2015

Aesop was correct when he said, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Familiarity breeds a comfort level between parents and children that allows unkind words and actions if not brought to mind.

Example: When you have a new visitor in your home, you are less at ease with them. You want to see to their needs, offer them a beverage and maybe seat them in your favorite chair. With this same person you would not want to burp or pass gas or be seen in your underwear.

When it comes to our own children, though, we don’t mind so much if we do any of the previously mentioned faux pas because they’ve heard, smelled or seen it already; we are comfortable with it. This comfort zone also allows us to say things to our child we wouldn’t say to a neighbor or stranger—hurtful things.

In elementary school, Katie had a friend whose mother taught at our community school. While visiting one day the mother was reviewing her daughter’s classwork from the previous day. Quite unexpectedly, she tapped her daughter on her head sharply and began scolding her for errors marked in red.

“How can you be so stupid?” she asked, and tweaked her shoulder.

The girl was obviously upset and embarrassed and took the papers to her room.

I asked her, “You are a school teacher; how can you treat your daughter that way? Do you hit children in your class for their errors?”

She excused her behavior saying, “But she is my daughter!”

She said she would never put her hands on a student that way but apparently familiarity made it acceptable to hit her daughter on the head and berate her in front of others. I was truly stunned but the more I thought about it, I could see how parents and children take liberties reserved for those close to them.

How can we fix this comfort level? There’s an old saying, ‘treat company like family and family like company.’ Simply being mindful of our comfort levels and how they affect our behavior can make a difference. Since the outside world can be cruel and mean, children’s homes should be one of the kindest, safest places around. Taking this a step further, teaching this to children can help them become more self-aware.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Woodleywonderworks Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Instructions: Be Clear and Concise


Grandchildren visiting their Grandma were given complete instructions before attempting to pump water for the animals.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 8, 2015

Unless you are a mind reader, if a person gives you a job, the first thing you need to know is how they want it done – it’s the same with children.

Parents make many requests of children in a day and most we do not truly think through. When we ask children to do a chore like ‘carry the shopping bags inside’ or ‘take care of the leaves on the deck,’ it may seem so simple that we neglect to provide explicit directions. A child may bring the bags inside but leave them by the front door rather than to the kitchen where they belong. The child might sweep the leaves off the deck yet leave the unsightly mess around the deck rather than mulch the leaves them or put them by the curb.

My brothers and I did many such chores and sometimes our parents would frown at our childish logic. Dad told fifteen-year-old Mickey once, “Build a trough for the hog pen today.” Mickey took three small planks and turned out a trough that looked more like a small doll crib. The hog trough should have been at least five times that size. Dad wasn’t laughing; “How could a farm boy make such a mistake?”

Mom told me one day, “Pick the green beans then wash them good.” Still new to gardening I did as she asked; I picked the beans— a whole bushel— and then went to the horses’ water trough and washed the beans by dunking them up and down. Today I know a horses’ trough is not sanitary but as a twelve-year-old child I was clueless. I did as I was told so why was she so mad?

A mother in my Parents Anonymous group told us about an experience she had with her sixteen-year-old daughter to illustrate a point. Charlotte said, “I wrote my daughter a note to take the lasagna out of the freezer and put it in the oven at 4 p.m. When I got home I saw she put the lasagna in the oven but she neglected to turn the oven on and the lasagna was still frozen.” Charlotte admitted the joke was on her; the daughter had done everything she had asked.

For a high school English assignment once, a teacher asked us to describe an air conditioner to someone in the jungle that never had electricity. The exercise made us think about words to use and how to explain step-by-step how you get cold air from a box. When children are learning something new they need precise instructions with every step needed to complete the task for the first time. Subsequently instructions may not be required but it helps to ask.

If my father had given clear instructions – with measurements – Mickey might have done the job correctly and not wasted lumber. With precise instructions I would have washed the beans as they should have been. And Charlotte would have enjoyed a restful dinner instead of having to cook when she got home.

Giving children clear, detailed directions are a must if you want a task done correctly. Children may need the steps written down rather than trying to remember everything. Complete instructions can also save time and money in the long run rather than having to redo an assignment.

Did you or your kids ever get an assignment wrong? What happened? How were things changed to prevent future mistakes?

WEEKLY QUOTES: Forgiveness

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway. ~Henry Boye

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. ~Grace Hopper

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, Little Foxes, 1865

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends immediately. It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm. ~Dan Heist

The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology. ~Red Auerbach

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. ~William Blake

Never ruin an apology with an excuse. ~Kimberly Johnson

True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? ~Stephen Levine

Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them. ~Author Unknown

In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry. ~Margaret Laurence

An apology is a good way to have the last word. ~Author Unknown

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. ~Emily Kimbrough

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. ~Chinese Proverb

PHOTO: Courtesy of Franklin B Thompson Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Two Tricks My Mother Played Well


Young children getting their daily nap is as important to parents as it is to kids.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 1, 2015

Many of you have heard how my mother abused me, but you have not heard about the two things she did well.

As any parent will tell you, they treasure their young children’s naps. They use the time to get things done and some use that naptime to get much-needed rest themselves. In my Parents Anonymous group I remember a few parents sharing in group how difficult it was to get their children to sleep for their nap. Some spent as much as an hour nagging and yelling and some had even spanked their kids. Until this…

What did my mother do that worked so well?

My mother had two techniques to get me to take a nap and both were equally successful:

  1. Mom told me that I did NOT have to sleep, BUT I did have to lay still. I could look at books or play with my toys but I was not allowed to sit up or get out of bed. That took all the pressure off for me to try and stay awake. The bonus – there was no hitting or yelling. I would be so relaxed that I would fall sound asleep within a few minutes.
  2. Mom had a devious backup plan that worked like magic, too. On the window she had multi-colored polka dot curtains and she asked me if I could count all of the dots of a particular color. Do know how boring that is, especially when you lose count? I could never get that far before I’d fall… Zzzz.

Needless to say, these tricks were pure genius. I can vouch for the effectiveness of this up until the children are out of their toddlerhood. I always imagined how great a parent my mother would have been if she was a member of a Parents Anonymous group. This would have been a great start!

WEEKLY QUOTES: Parents and Attitudes

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift. ~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching? ~Dennis and Wendy Mannering

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown

We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers. ~Seneca

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Francesca Reigler

To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving. ~Max Beerbohm

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give. ~George MacDonald

If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want. ~Oscar Wilde

The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

PHOTO: Courtesy of Patrick Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Health, Parenting | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

When is a good time to join Parents Anonymous?


“My mother-in-law says my son is too thin even though he eats well; should I be worried?”

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | March 25, 2015

I was desperate and needed help but the time never seemed just right; there was laundry, errands to do or I was meeting a friend for coffee.

Over the years parents have asked me and other Helpline volunteers this question. The answer was simple, really, whenever they feel the need. With Parents Anonymous, parents decide what is best for them. The groups are open ended so parents can start or stop attending whenever they want. Some parents attend sporadically, usually when an issue rises and they want ideas or feedback from other parents. Then you have parents like me who needed ongoing support to keep a lid on anger or to deal with the frustration of parenting a child with ADHD, mental illness or other issues.

Here is a sampling of questions brought to a Parents Anonymous Group:

• Do I really have to buy designer label clothing for my child to keep their self-esteem high?
• My teenage daughter insists on wearing G-strings and sneaks out of the house at night, should I be worried?
• How do I explain the birds and bees to my kids?
• My son is bullied at school, how do I talk with the school officials?
• I’m a divorced father and I left my five-year-old son outdoors unattended and CPS says I have to come here, what can you teach me?
• How do I get my husband to stop yelling?
• I have zero patience; what can I do to become more patient?
• How hard do I need to hit my daughter with the wooden spoon to get her to listen?
• My son seems very sad all the time; what should I do?
• My mother-in-law says my son is too thin even though he eats well; should I be worried?

“Our electricity was cut off, who can I call for help?”

Parents not only talk about parenting issues; any stress affects how we parent:

• I am a parent with special needs, how can I get my boss to stop abusing me?
• The other carpool-mom is a bad driver; how do I tell her?
• My daughter needs to have white sneakers, how can I get grass stains out?
• My husband pushes me but that is not abuse, is it?
• We just moved to the area, can anyone recommend a good pediatrician and therapist?
• The landlord tells me our son makes too much noise for the tenants below; what should I do?
• Our electricity was cut off, who can I call for help?
• I just found out I’m pregnant with our fourth child… [tears] I don’t want more children!
• With the divorce in progress, how can I get my needs met?
• I’m wiped out, the neighbor’s dog barked all night again; are there city ordinances to deal with that?
• My ex is never on time with child support and I’ve been let go from my job; what will we do?
• We never seem to have enough food at the end of the month; does anyone have any ideas what I can do?

Whatever the issue, other members can share their experiences and feedback to help. Every group is facilitated by a trained professional who has links within the community to resources that can help solve many stressful life events.

Parents Anonymous Groups belong to the parents who attend the groups and parents direct discussions. Stress is one of the major causes of unintentional child abuse. Venting, getting feedback and finding solutions at a Parents Anonymous Group can help prevent that abuse.

If you or someone you know needs help all you have to do is ask. Find a group that meets nationwide by calling the National Parent Helpline: 1-855-427-2736 – Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST.

In New Jersey call the 24-hour Family Helpline to find a local group, vent, find resources or just to talk: 1-800-843-5437. The online groups are three times every week EST: Wednesdays 9:00 p.m., Thursdays 12:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 p.m.

The Parents Anonymous motto: “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”

WEEKLY QUOTES: Driving, Fathers, Mothers

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead. ~Mac McCleary

A pedestrian is someone who thought there were a couple of gallons left in the tank. ~Author Unknown

One father is more than a hundred Schoolmasters. ~George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640

The phrase “working mother” is redundant. ~Jane Sellman

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer. ~Author Unknown

It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road. ~Author Unknown

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce

The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it. ~Dudley Moore

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly. ~Author Unknown

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.” ~Harmon Killebrew

Call your mother. Tell her you love her. Remember, you’re the only person who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside. ~Rachel Wolchin

PHOTO: Courtesy of Alex Bikfalvi Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of André Maceira Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Parents Anonymous | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Warning: Easter Sugar Overload!


Sugar overload on Easter (and afterward) can cause temporary negative behavior spikes that can spell big trouble for parents and kids alike.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | March 18, 2015

Easter is coming – watch out for sugar overload!

Most parents try to limit sugar and candies their children consume and holidays can often wreck our endeavors. While one day will not make a child become obese, the sugars eaten that day (and afterward) can cause temporary negative behavior spikes that can spell big trouble for parents and kids. To me prevention is just as important for anger and abuse as it is for cavities and obesity. Here are a few things to think about in advance:

Give non-candy gifts:

Balls, Barrettes & hairpins, Beads, Books, Bubbles, Chalks for sidewalks & blackboards, Coloring books, Combs, Comic books, Crafts, Crayons, Glow-in-the-dark anything, Jacks & balls, Key chains, Legos, Lip balm & gloss, Movie theater tickets, Noise makers, Notepads, Party favors, Pens, Pencils & erasers, Pick-up sticks, Plastic coin holders, Plastic figures & animals, Plastic jewelry, Play-Doh , Puzzles, Stickers, Temporary tattoos, Toothbrushes, Toy cars, Travel size toiletries, Water color sets and so on.

Give non-sugar (added) treats:

Apples, Goldfish crackers, Pretzels, Raisins, String cheese, Sugarless gum and so on. Check the grocery store diabetic aisle for seasonal treats for children.

Keeping sugar away from children is not easy. During holidays guests and relatives tend to bring candy without even considering that parents may not want kids to have it and it is nearly impossible to take candy away once it has been seen by the child. Plan ahead and inform visitors of your wishes BEFORE they show up. Here’s how to put it diplomatically:

“Thank you so much, BUT since we treasure our time with you we are restricting candy to prevent negative behaviors.”

Even after parents have warned everyone, there may be grandparents or others who feel parents are making a big deal out of nothing and give candy to kids anyway so be prepared. If a sugar-rush outburst occurs, stay calm and try to remain objective… it is only one day in a child’s lifetime and use it as a learning experience for the future.

As with Halloween, there are many recipes for using up leftover candy near the end of the page on: Halloween Resources

Parents could also carefully measure out the amount of candy so kids enjoy it longer with lower behavior spikes. It can help parents to remember that the most important goal is to create a lasting pleasant memory as opposed to an unpleasant one.

ABOUT SUGAR in a nutshell: Our government has been subsidizing sugar production so manufacturers are encouraged to add it to many food items. As people became more sugar conscious, companies tinkered with the substance in order to disguise it from consumers under other names – and another and another and so on.

The 57 Names Of Sugar [So Far]

To economize on non-food items for Easter check out local dollar stores, discount stores, pharmacies and grocery stores as sources. There are also low-cost options online at these and other businesses:

Oriental Trading

Party City

Amazon

Here are other helpful articles you may like:

16 Easter Basket Treats the Tooth Fairy Would Approve Of

How to Make a Low(er) Sugar Easter Basket

Treats low in sugar just as sweet for Easter baskets

Alternatives to Candy: 68 Easter treats to give instead of sugar-filled candies

Healthy Sugar-Free Easter Recipes Galore – Mostly Grain Free

Good luck with Easter and remember to learn for the next holidays that dot our calendar!

WEEKLY QUOTES: Carpe Diem

Fear not that life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning. ~John Henry Cardinal Newman

You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it. ~Charles Buxton

To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~William James

Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. ~Charles Richards

As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do. ~Zachary Scott

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance. Everyone is just waiting. ~Dr. Seuss

I’m less interested in why we’re here. I’m wholly devoted to while we’re here. ~Erika Harris

To always be intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it — this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed. ~Walter Scott

You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. ~Ruth E. Renkl

Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Voiceless”

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. ~Annie Dillard

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. ~James Dean

The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years. ~Edward J. Stieglitz

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. ~Fr. Alfred D’Souza

I would I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours. ~Bernard Berenson

PHOTO: Courtesy of FabulousTerrah Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Holidays, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dangers (Toddlers) Underfoot In The Kitchen


Care should be taken with toddlers underfoot to keep them safe in the kitchen when handling hot foods, heavy pots and pans or when slicing and dicing foods.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | March 11, 2015

What can do you do when a toddler is constantly underfoot in the kitchen?

With two-year-old Chelsey, before I came to Parents Anonymous, I really had no idea what I should do. When I was using a razor to slice frozen meats for Chinese dishes, I was concerned that she would reach for the blade since she was so curious. I knew parents used gates so I built a sturdy one out of pine and drilled plenty of holes so she could see me. Chelsey did not care, though, and she would scream and throw things over the top of the gate. She eventually outgrew her clinginess over time, thank goodness.

My last child had no sense of personal space and was glued to me all – day – long. It could be annoying but I knew Katie would outgrow that stage so I tried to be patient. Some days, though, when I was trying to get supper on the table, I would almost trip or stumble over her – sometimes carrying hot foods or heavy pots. It could get dangerous for both of us, something I wanted to avoid.

Appealing to her creative nature, I put Katie in a chair at the table. I took a square of aluminum foil and made five cuts as you will see in the image. The spaces would be crumple shaped into a head, two arms, two legs and a body.

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and make five cuts with scissors as shown here.

Show toddlers how to gently crumple the sheet of foil to create a Tin Man or Tin Person with the results looking similar to the figure here.

After showing Katie once, she was eager to create a Tin Man whenever she saw the familiar square of foil. That simple craft would give me time to get supper on the table safely and let her explore her creativity. The foil was not expensive and it was not discarded until it was recycled. Here are a couple reuses for Tin Men that have served their purpose:

• Scrub kitchen pots or the burned on drips from the bottom of the oven.

• Scrub the outdoor grill clean before cooking.

• Rub rust spots off of garden tools, metal car bumpers or shower-curtain rods.

We all come up with things that work to keep our sanity and keep our kids safe. What are some of your solutions?

PHOTO: Courtesy of Cheryl Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
E-mail: PANJInfo@PAofNJ.org

Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Sundays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

PANJ Online Chat Room Tips

Facebook: Parent Rap Group

Parent Rap Facebook Page

Facebook: Father Time

Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614

National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Posted in Parenting, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments