Pets Enhance Our Lives


Studies suggest having a pet has many benefits for children such as higher self-esteem, better social skills, are more relaxed, have lower blood pressure and so on.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | March 4, 2015

Nature is filled with wondrous things that are sure to delight children of all ages.

Children are born with inquisitiveness about the world around them. As a child I often marveled at birds in flight, watching them soar, dip and dive in the wild. They were such a joy to observe as they went about their lives.

My mother always had parakeets and like her, I welcomed them into our lives, too. I wanted to have my daughters experience birds as I had so we brought a green parakeet. We named him Pete and he wasted no time getting used to us. Over the years we laughed at Pete bathing and splashing, walking around our supper table, flying to our shoulders and walking on the floor. We woke up to Pete’s ‘get up’ call, the wolf whistle and bird calls. Even the dog got in on the fun; Jim Bob followed Pete walking on the floor and licked up his poops along the way. Pete gave us so many joy-filled hours during his lifetime. And I miss him still.

When Pete died many years ago the girls and I mourned for months over the silly bird that had grown so attached to us and it was their first experience with death. I did not replace Pete because I could not bear the thought of suffering through another loss but now it is time to move on and get another parakeet – a companion for me.

A parakeet can learn to interact with people to provide countless hours of enjoyment.

Benefits of having Pets

Studies suggest having a pet has many benefits for children such as higher self-esteem, better social skills, are more relaxed, have less risk of asthma, lower blood pressure, fewer visits to the doctor, increased responsibility, improved impulse control, less anxiety, less stress, less loneliness and more. Check out the Parents article below:

Parents: The Benefits of Pets

Simple Spring Bird Activity

When my daughters were young we often put scraps of colored or shiny string, threads, ribbons and such out in the yard for birds building nests in spring. With or without binoculars we watched as birds of all kinds hopped among our offerings to choose the perfect additions to their nests. Perhaps your children would find birds interesting to observe. Birdwatching makes a wonderful hobby that gets children outdoors and into nature!

Helpful Bird Guides and Information

How to ID Birds

All About Birds

Backyard Bird Identifier

National Audubon Society

Did someone mention photographing birds?

Bird photography tips: how to shoot pin-sharp pictures of birds of prey

All About Birds: Bird Photography

How to Photograph Birds

Tips for Photographing Birds

Poor Man’s Guide to Bird Photography

And you can use cell phones for photographing more that your lunch and selfies:

Cell Phone Bird Photography

PhoneSkope: Bird Watching

PHOTO: Courtesy of George Thomas Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Selbe Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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

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Connecting School to Material Wants


Many children are ill prepared for the real world because they do not know the cost of things or that doing well in school is correlated with how much money they earn as adults.

Kids today handle more money than their parents did as children and some do not yet know the value of a dollar.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | February 25, 2015

When I first left home as a teenager, I was totally clueless as to how much things cost. My parents neglected to teach me about one of the most important life skills I needed – managing money. The earlier a parent ties money and cost to things they want in life the better prepared they will be when they go out on their own. While you are at it, throw in combining education with pay or salaries.

Some kids love going to school and some do not. Goal setting can help but many have difficulty connecting the now to the future job and earning power. Here is a simple, low-tech way to get your kids to want to go to school, a visual wants poster.

You will need:

• 1 Sheet of poster board, any color
• 1 School glue or glue stick
• 1 Pair of scissors
• Several old or discarded magazines

The poster board can be whole or divided into parts for NOW, the NEAR FUTURE and DISTANT FUTURE. Have your son or daughter look through magazines to find pictures of things they want or would like to have at some point in the future. For example: a cell phone, game system, brand name sneakers or clothes for NOW or perhaps a car in the NEAR FUTURE, and a house, family for the DISTANT FUTURE. Children can also clip words to add to the poster board.

When the children are finished cutting out pictures, help them arrange them on the poster board according to the NOW, the NEAR FUTURE and DISTANT FUTURE. As kids begin to glue the pictures in place you and your child can talk about what is needed in order to obtain these things. Locate prices and add the figure to the poster. Studying and applying will get better grades, better grades will get them into college and a college degree is more likely to get them a better paying job, which may mean more money. Cha-ching!

If your child wants to play football in high school, glue the picture of the football player to the NEAR FUTURE section. You discuss the grades requirements that you and the school have in place. If your child is taking driver’s education and is thinking about a car, they can add the picture of her dream car to her poster board. You and your children can discuss the different prices for a used or new car and rules you will have about school and driving.

Hang the children’s wants poster to their wall or door where they will see it every day. They can add new wants as they see fit and who knows, family may get ideas for birthdays and holidays!

You can expand or modify the wants poster to fit your needs. If your child wants friends they can cut out a picture and words that will lead to having friends like: truthful, honest, confidential, fun and be a friend. If your child wants to eat healthier, they can create a good food/bad food poster. You are only limited by your imagination!

PHOTO: Courtesy of 401kcalculator.org Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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

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Fax: (609) 585-7686
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Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
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Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Parenting Pretend: Fake It Till You Make It


Whenever I had to do anything stressful like meet with school staff or speak in public, I always imagined the Parents Anonymous Group members behind me, supporting me.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | February 18, 2015

Twenty-six years ago an army assembled behind me for moral support… and they never left.

It seems so long ago that I attended my first Parents Anonymous meeting; the issue driving me bonkers at the time was homework. As it turned out, the school had placed Chelsey in an accelerated gifted class, one she could barely keep up with. Classwork not completed at school had to be finished at home and that meant sometimes two or three grueling hours of me helping her. The Parents Anonymous Group members encouraged me to speak to the principal to get Chelsey taken out of that hyped-up class – something the principal vehemently did not want. I was nervous about the meeting but the day I met with the principal, I was ready… with my imaginary army standing behind me: about 8 to 12 extraordinary parents who only wanted the best for their kids. With the other members’ support, I was able to state my position and successfully moved my daughter to a brand new, regular class. Success felt pretty good and Chelsey’s difficulties in school and my stress ended, thanks to my imaginary army of support.

Patience was never my strong point and I was constantly trying to improve. When house rules were ignored I would tell the kids (sometimes yelling) and when the infraction continued I would get annoyed and frustrated. One day I made a discovery when Chelsey had a friend over; when the visiting friend broke the rules something strange happened. Instead of getting upset, I became very patient and politely explained the house rules and why we do things this way. From that time on, when I started to get upset I would pretend Chelsey or Katie were a neighbor’s child; I would certainly be more patient. Pretending worked so well for me that I shared my discovery with the members in my Parents Anonymous group.

Over the years I have been asked to speak on behalf of Parents Anonymous on television and public. I am not a very good speaker so I would get pretty nervous before each event. I heard once that imagining the audience naked was an effective way to get calm and remain relaxed through the interview. Imagery of people n their birthday suits had a way of leveling the playing field. Details are not necessary but I can attest to the fact that it does help… if you can do the interview without laughing.

These three examples of pretending used to solve a problem worked for me and they might work for you, too. Give it a try… Fake it till you make it!

PHOTO: Courtesy of OnceAndFutureLaura 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
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Parents Anonymous® Inc.
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1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
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Anger: What You Can Do


Anger affects our health and parenting in negative ways and inner calmness is what we all crave.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | February 11, 2015

Anger can steal your peace of mind and add untold stress to our lives.

There are many things I would not do when I am angry: Drive a car, answer the phone, make a financial decision, send a letter, comment on something in Facebook and so on. Like some people, I cannot think clearly when I am angry – I need to calm down.

“Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.” ~Robert Green Ingersoll

Calming down when you are angry may not be easy but is necessary for yourself and everyone around you. Here are a few tips you might try:

Meditation and yoga are just two excellent ways to calm your mood and find peace of mind.

  • Counting. Count up to 100 by twos, then threes until calm.
    Step outdoors. Winter chills may just be the answer.
    Pound nails. Walk to your tool shed and pound a few nails into a piece of scrap wood or wooden fence. Remove them from the wood the next time anger rises.
    Take a brisk walk. Walk or jog the perimeter of your property, apartment complex or around the block.
    Go up or down stairs. Something is always headed up or down; take laundry to the basement or carry supplies upstairs.
    Bounce a ball. Toss a ball from hand to hand or just squeeze – it is good exercise.
    Breathe deeply. Inhale to the count of two; exhale to the count of four. Doing this increases the exchange of gasses in your lungs and focusing on breathing may help cool anger.
    Repot a plant. Spending a few minutes upgrading a favorite plant can be beneficial.
    Try yoga. Google “Beginner Yoga Poses” and take your time.
    Write. Jot down your feelings of anger in a journal, see if a pattern emerges. Start a free blog and write about your experiences.
    Pray. Start a daily prayer list and add the names of those you feel need blessings or divine intervention.
    Vent. Make a call to a toll-free helpline and talk for ten minutes or bend the ear of a sympathetic friend.
    Read aloud. The Declaration of Independence, the Bible or a dictionary can help change your focus until rational thinking returns.
    Drink water. Guzzling eight ounces of water may give you the time you need to take a step back from the situation and calm down.
    Meditate. Think about how you want this situation to be resolved.
    Drown it out. Plug in to earphones and listen to a portable radio or music.
    Reach for the stars. Simple stretching can loosen tense muscles and enable better breathing.
    Increase distance. Move in a direction away from the cause of your anger.
    • Palms down. Stand by a sturdy table and press your hands flat; move the fingers apart, then together, repeat.
    Go nowhere. Sit in your car with the motor off. Listen to the radio, music or a book read aloud.

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems— not people; to focus your energies on answers— not excuses.” ~William Arthur Ward

Almost every community has helplines or warm lines where parents can talk or vent to discharge stress and let go of anger.

In many households, similar stress-producing problems tend to pop up over and over like clothing left on the floor, homework not turned in, messes not cleaned up or children fighting. These quick tips can help reduce stress and increase understanding:

Identify the problem. Identifying the problem is the first step to a solution.
Troubleshoot solutions. Once identified, list possible solutions or compromises.
Name your feelings. Label your feeling to clarify the issues.
Use “I” messages. Have your say in a respectful manner; look for answers, not to place blame.
Listen to others. Seek to understand others; you may not have all the facts in a situation.
Note anger triggers. Find the spark and head off the next episode by putting a plan in place while you are calm.
Look for help. There are many options available for professional help: therapy, counseling, anger management, clergy and so on. Like Parents Anonymous says, “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”

Imagine yourself looking ahead and see your future self behaving calmly while disciplining the kids and then work to become that all-wise, all-knowing June or Ward Cleaver. What you do now will have a ripple effect on you children and their behavior well into their teens.

Children learn how to behave from parents’ examples… What are you teaching your children?

PHOTO: Courtesy of Lauren Rushing Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Caleb Roenigk Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Martin Cathrae 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 , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Beat the Winter Blahs


Treat family like company; throw a tablecloth and a few candles on the table and turn lunch or dinner into a banquet.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | February 4, 2015

Am I the only one with the winter blahs?

Punxsutawney Phil, that groundhog predictor of spring weather, says winter is here to stay well into March and that means many of us are not too happy. Parents are hitting the snooze button and children haul backpacks with a leave-me-alone frown. What is a parent to do?

For many years I’ve heard the expression, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and I wholeheartedly believe that. Parents set the tone for the household. If parents are cheerful then kids will be happy, too; if parents are quiet and grumpy, then kids will be moody, too.

Turn a negative into an unforgettable positive learning experience that you and your child will remember for some time.

What can you do to lift the gloom?

It may seem silly but…

• Use the good china and candlesticks to set an elaborate table for breakfast or dinner.
• Make or buy a crown that the first child to the table can wear until the meal is finished.
• Collect change from the washer and when there is enough, take children out for breakfast or, if it is on the weekend, to brunch.
• Celebrate a holiday of choice or honor your children with ‘outstanding’ or ‘most improved’ awards: Manners, academics, helpfulness, thoughtfulness and so on.
• Write an uplifting message or funny joke on the bathroom mirror.
• Wear a fancy hat or costume.
• Talk to each other in rhyme.

Get creative and come up with your own brand of sunshine and cheer to warm the moods around you. You may discover how contagious lightheartedness and optimism can be!

PHOTO: Courtesy of Andy Melton Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Chris Tse 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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

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Snow Days Remembered


Gather snow, add a little of this and a little of that and voilà! Snow cream! Just add kids!

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 28, 2015

Tell me, do you prefer your hot chocolate with marshmallows whole, dissolved or none at all?

My children are grown and off growing their careers but they left me something very important in their wake – incredibly fun memories.

As I begin writing today, what may become known as the “Blizzard of 2015” is bearing down on Jersey with all the force a nor’easter can muster. Families prepare; parents buy bread, milk and other supplies while children wear their pajamas wrong side out or mismatched socks in hopes of being granted snow days. I think of how we each view snow days at different times.

Snow cream was a highlight of every snowfall from my own childhood and now theirs. Almost ceremoniously, one of us would go out to gather a large mixing bowl of clean snow making sure is was nowhere near the area that Jim Bob used. Dry fluffy snow worked best while snow with ice crystals did not have as creamy a texture. Once the snow was inside I would stir it up as my grandmother Mur taught me. Like her, I never measured ingredients but the approximate recipe is below.

Mur’s Snow Cream

Large bowl of snow (at least a gallon)
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk (Some prefer condensed milk, sweetened or plain)

Add milk to bowl of snow a half a cup at a time. Snow will compact and appear to be much less than when you begin. Add sugar and vanilla and stir well. If you prefer stiffer snow cream then add less milk. If you prefer snow cream slushy then add more milk. We tended to scale back on sugar in later years while others used substitutes for sugar. Flavorings can be added if you wish but we preferred “the real thing.”

Chelsey and Katie once used my favorite rectangular plastic bowl to create bricks to build walls and an igloo. They came in to get warm and to have lunch. Then as soon as their coats were dry enough they were right back out there building snow men – and women. Katie sculpted her first anatomically-correct but armless Venus de Milo on our humble deck.

Children and snowfall equals soggy, drippy outerwear hung on chair backs to dry before the hot oven door. As I baked dinner, more pairs of socks dangled nearby than we have feet. Puddles grew from boots, gloves and scarves as I scooped them up for the washer, as much to dry them as to clean them.

Looking around I am reminded of our little poodle Jim Bob and how the girls giggled upon seeing his first jump from the deck only to disappear beneath the snow drifts. They toweled him dry after coming inside and dressed him in his favorite sweater.

The night chill kept them indoors after supper and we would all pile into the living room to watch a favorite movie or to listen to Chelsey read Scary Stories before bed. Katie would listen wide-eyed and cautious with Chelsey making the most of every creepy detail. Below are some of the YouTube Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories that Chelsey read to us back then:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Complete Audiobook

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Complete Audiobook

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Complete Audiobook

The best part was after the cleanup, relaxing and listening to the girls read Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories.

Remembering all this takes me back to what is really important in life and it is not the soggy, wet clothes or time from school. The hidden gem is the memories we tuck away for later on. The girls are gone now but I still have a steamy hot cup of hot chocolate – with marshmallows dissolved, please.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jessica Lothrop Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Nomadic Lass 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 Making Memories, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Kids Don’t Seem To Eat Enough


If you have ever worried about your child’s diet then you are not alone.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 21, 2015

Many parents have worried about their child not eating enough, me included.

A member was recently concerned about whether or not their child was eating enough to be healthy and it reminded me of several similar instances. When my brother was around four years old, it seemed as if he ‘ate like a bird’ and my mother worried and nagged him at every meal.

“Eat your supper, Terry, you haven’t eaten anything today,” she would plead.

Terry would snap, “I did eat; I ate when you weren’t looking!”

Give kids a heads up to get ready to eat soon so they arrive at the table in a positive mood.

The more our mother nagged, the less Terry would eat and more often than not, she or my brother would end up in tears. Mom took Terry to the doctor to learn if he was underweight or if there was a medical reason he was not eating. The doctor told her that eating was a natural function and to ‘let him be’ and he would eat when he was ready. By the next year Terry was eating everything put before him and was asking for more – nature had finally kicked in.

Later on I remembered the advice given to our mother by the doctor when it seemed my first child was not eating very much. My grandmother began telling me frightening stories about children that did not eat enough so I began to worry: Would she have brain damage? Would her growth be stunted? Would she get sick? (Our runaway imaginations can do more harm than good.) The pediatrician told me to give my daughter bacon, as much as she wanted, saying that bacon was an appetite stimulant. Can you picture anything sillier than me following my three-year-old daughter around trying to stuff bacon into her? It was quite stressful for me at the time but it was a different time and we all know more now than back then.

The fact remains that many parents do worry their young children are not eating enough so I found an informative 4-page article with clear guidelines about caloric needs for kids age one to ten.

Serve small portions so kids do not feel overwhelmed; serve more as needed.

How Much Does My Kid Need to Eat?

Here are other things parents can do to try and get children to eat better:

Provide healthy snacks: Have small amounts of fruits and vegetables available that children can easily graze on between meals. Healthy food for a young child at any time counts as nutrition. Remove the snacks, though, at least an hour before a scheduled family meal and cut back on between-meal snacks as children eat better.

Give a pre-meal reminder: Children’s work is play and interrupting their work to plop them in a chair with no prior notice can be upsetting for kids. To set a positive mealtime mood, tell kids that in ten minutes their meal will be served and it is time to get ready by stopping play and washing their hands. Setting a minute timer can sometimes help them get ready on time without a parent’s second reminder.

Schedule regular mealtimes: Eating at the same time every day can become an event children look forward to. Studies also show that children who eat dinner with their parents were less likely to become involved with drugs, become pregnant as a teen, experience depression and also do better in school and have a higher self-esteem

Keep mealtime conversation on positive topics, not scolding or reminding about chores.

Make food fun: Cut foods into shapes, create pictures or sculptures from foods, give foods funny names or jazz up foods with healthy dips. The Internet is an endless source of recipes and ideas to get foods inside children’s tummies.

Don’t pressure children: Kids eat better when there is no pressure; use the ‘just try it once’ method and also allow them a few foods that they do not have to eat ever because they really dislike it, don’t like the way it feels in their mouth or makes the mouth tingle. Note: Food allergies show up in children by ‘tingling’ or ‘itching.’

Related article: The Need To Know: Child Into Adulthood

Keep table time positive: Mealtimes are not the time to remind about chores or homework, mealtimes are for asking ‘how was your day,’ ‘what did you learn today,’ or fun things like learning a new word or sharing news. Have children stay at the table until the meal is over, even if they are finished.

Teach for tomorrow: Remember that what kids learn at the table sets a patter for years to come. Children may spill things or drop food but tomorrow is another opportunity to practice and get better. Teaching manners comes a little at a time with patience and caring.

Allow children one or two foods that they do not have to eat but encourage them to try a variety of foods.

Tech-free mealtime: Attention grabbers like handheld games, cell phones and TVs can distract parents and children from what is truly important, family time. This works better when parents set the example and follow the rule. Parents not answering a ringing phone during the sacred dinner hour shows children how important they are to mom and dad.

Positive feedback: Before bedtime make a point to tell children how nice it was to have them at the meal. Or that their washing hands without reminding them shows how they are maturing. Positive feedback is especially nice for young kids.

Listen to the doctor, not others: Family often want to help and offer advice but nobody knows your child like you and if the doctor says your child is healthy then believe it. If your child does not maintain their weight, though, then it may be time to call the doctor again.

We had our share of broccoli and chocolate cake stuffed under the cushions and green beans fed to the family dog. Thinking of the bigger picture when parents discover these little surprises, though, can supply families with funny stories for a lifetime. Let it go for now… that’s what is important.

Do you have tricks up your sleeve to share? I am always curious what other parents do to get kids to eat.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jeremy Kunz Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Foods Courtesy of Melissa 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Teach Kids School Bus and Pedestrian Safety Again and Again


Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in every state except in special circumstances. If you are unsure in a particular instance, it is safer (and less expensive) to be on the safe side and stop. Check the links below for the laws in your state.

“Okay, kids, what is the giant-step rule?”

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 14, 2015

Parents tell children about pedestrian and school bus safety but there is still a good chance they have forgotten what was said.

• My older brother was hit by a pickup truck crossing the street to our bus stop – and lived.
• A friend and I were hit by a car crossing the street to school in the rain; Shelia held the umbrella so we would not get wet and we did not see the car – we were both hospitalized and lived.
• Randy Mahew, a six-year-old friend of our family, ran across the road in front of his house to catch the bus after kissing his mother good-bye and was struck by a car – Randy died.
• A classmate’s dress tail was caught in the door of a bus and she was dragged several feet – she eventually recovered from her injuries.
• My brother-in-law stepped off the curb in Lima, Peru and was struck by a delivery truck – Lucho died.
• As I left a store and headed to the car once, six-year-old Katie, impulsive as she was, broke free of my hand and darted into the path of an oncoming car. Luckily, the driver was alert and able to prevent an accident.

These accidents are all too common but each one could have been prevented. As a child, the only training we had about pedestrian safety was our parents saying ‘don’t go into the street’ and you know how meaningful that warning was.

The problem with children is the lesson does not imprint on their still-developing brains until they are much older plus kids can be impulsive. When parents say, ‘Good-bye honey, be careful,’ it becomes routine and is forgotten soon after the door closes. Here are a few things parents can do to keep children safe:

Teach children the giant-step rules. Instructions such as ‘stay a safe distance from the curb’ do not mean much to children, their perception of distance may be off by several feet. Teach children in terms that are clearer to them: ONE GIANT STEP is equal to about TWO FEET.
• When the school bus approaches children should stand at least THREE GIANT STEPS (6 feet) from the curb.
• Danger zones for a school bus are ten feet on all sides of the bus; children need to be at least FIVE GIANT STEPS (10 feet) from the bus when walking around the bus or to cross the street in front of the bus.

Accompany young children to the bus stop or to school, drilling them along the way: “How many steps from the curb?” “Which way do you look?” “If you drop something getting off the bus, what do you do?” “You wait for the bus to do what before you step toward the curb?” and so on. Pretty soon kids are reciting safety rules all the way to and from school.

Parents can vary salutations in a manner that children will remember; instead of, “Good-bye honey, be careful,” try rhyming or singing school bus safety rules.

Watch fun videos with children that highlight safety rules from the library, YouTube, purchase online and so on. You can use Google or YouTube and search for “school bus safety children” or “pedestrian safety children” and you will get many resources to share with kids.

One risk to children is the number of motorists who ignore stopped school buses and sometimes don’t even slow down. Reporter Jeff Rossen recently rode behind a school bus as it carried children from school and it was surprising how many vehicles zoomed past the stopped bus.

There is new technology available to equip buses with cameras that will record errant motorists and automatically send fines in the mail. Drivers who wish to complain will have a link to a website where they can view the evidence.

Until the technology reaches every school bus, citizens can share information about the issue with friends and family. Below are links to reliable information and videos for parents and children along with posters to share on social media.

Digest of Motor Laws: School Buses

NBC Today Show & Jeff Rossen: New Technology Targets Drivers Passing Stopped School Buses

Let’s Go Walking! Lesson 4: School Bus Safety

School Bus Safety Video

The day Katie ran in front of that car, I could imagine all our lives changing forever – our impulsive, joy-filled little darlings deserve better. Their safety is all our duties.

*You may share any of these posters on social media. That excludes the image above that is credited to “Let Ideas Compete.”

When the pavement is solid across the highway – no break by an island, a concrete barrier or grassy median – then you must stop and wait until the bus’ blinking lights are off and the stop-arm taken in before proceeding.

When a divided highway is broken by a grass median, a cement barrier or raised space as in an island then motorists may proceed with caution. Check the link above to learn the exact laws in your state.

The most dangerous areas of a school bus is within ten feet and around the front and back near the wheels where they cannot be seen. Kids cannot accurately measure distance so teach young children to measure by counting giant steps: One giant step is equal to about two feet.

Laws concerning school buses were put in place to protect children who may be inattentive, impulsive or careless. To break any of those laws can cost you hard-earned dollars or a child’s life.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Let Ideas Compete 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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, How-To, Safety, School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

We Do Not Celebrate Christmas Like Most Folks


Chelsey and Katie enjoyed our annual family sleepover with movie marathons and Jim Bob the poodle bouncing from bed to bed.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | December 17, 2014

My husband grew up with his aunt and uncle who were Jehovah’s Witnesses so Christmases for us were strained at best. Finally, when my girls were two and five we decided to stop exchanging gifts and cards to celebrate the holiday. My husband had valid reasons that made sense, “Christmas is only a holiday for the retailers.” This melded easily with my religious beliefs and our holidays were made more peaceful and enjoyable. After all, I married the whole man for every day of the year and I would not let a little thing like a holiday tear our family apart. Katie and Chelsey adapted much better than my family members and friends but even they eventually accepted our decision.

Everyone helped plan easy-to-prepare foods and Mr. Ramirez made traditional Peruvian dishes and desserts.

To compensate we put other traditions in place of Christmas so they were not deprived. Christmas became our family time and we focused on each other rather than buying and wrapping presents. We continued to give modest gifts to the girls but I think they reveled in the break from school routine and that they had our full, interrupted attention for at least two full days.

On December 24th we enjoyed our annual “Family Sleepover.” To prepare, we made special treats and snacks and my husband would make traditional Peruvian dishes and desserts. We purchased and borrowed movies from our public library making sure everyone picked favorites. We carried our mattresses into the living room and arranged them so everyone had a good view. Even Jim Bob, the family dog, loved this time and showed us by bouncing from mattress to mattress.

Family Night we donned our pajamas and warm socks and climbed in for the duration. We banned any bedtime hour saying, “The last to fall asleep turns the lights off!” To start we played everyone’s favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We watched “Waking Ned Devine” and had sandwiches then it was “Patton” and snacks and bathroom breaks. We laughed at “The Goonies and revved up for “Batteries Not Included.” “Elf” with Will Ferrell and James Caan is a favorite of mine; just because we don’t celebrate doesn’t mean I don’t like a good story! One by one we nodded off and even Jim Bob would be ready to call it a night.

The 25th would be simple and easy; foods were already prepared and there were no chores for anyone. We’d give the girls their gifts and their smiles were the only presents we could have ever wanted.

Some thought we were depriving our girls of the “joy of Christmas,” so what did we miss out on? We missed the stress of shopping for party clothing or searching for the “perfect gift” for every person on a carefully planned shopping list. We missed the aggravation of long lines in stores and heated exchanges between family members and other customers. We also missed the credit card debts and arguments over budgets and money. No tree was ever wasted for the sake of hanging a string of lights and shiny balls that break so easily. We also did not experience the let down so common after opening gifts in a frenzy. I would state unequivocally that our children were never deprived of joy. They got presents or surprises year round instead of waiting for the angst of a single day.

There is that old question bantered about, “What would Jesus do?” When put in those terms it removes any doubt I might have had about not celebrating a traditional Christmas. I believe Jesus would give approval that we didn’t lie to our children about Santa Claus and cause them to feel sadness and confusion upon learning the truth. I believe Jesus would be supportive that we did not waste money giving gifts that are not needed or wanted and might even be stored away for re-gifting next year. While we don’t celebrate the holiday, I believe Jesus knows what is in our hearts and will give a nod to our reasons and results.

The only things we missed out on were shopping pressures, crowded stores, higher electric bills and January credit card debt.

People sometimes look surprised when I say, “We don’t celebrate Christmas.” They often come back with, “Oh, you are Jewish then?” It’s funny to me how some have a need to categorize everyone into a little niche they are familiar with. “Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are you agnostics?” Instead, I think being brought up in our family has taught them tolerance of others and acceptance of all beliefs and customs no matter the culture or religion. That is certainly our true and lasting legacy.

Celebrating or not is a personal decision some make and others just do for their children whatever their parents did for them. The first time the subject came up in my Parents Anonymous Group I got the usual range of comments but in the end all the other parents were very supportive. The other parents did not judge me nor I them as is written in the Parents Anonymous welcome statement. If you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or nothing at all, it is your choice and right to do so.

Revised from November 28, 2012 Article

PHILANTHROPY RESOURCES

Please remember food pantries and homeless shelters when thinking about donations. Parents Anonymous is a favorite of mine, too. A cousin of mine buys a school desk for children in other countries. I have donated to help teachers buy school supplies in North Carolina. There is so much need in the world, deciding where to donate can be fun for the entire family. Below are several resources for evaluating the entities that benefit:

Non-Profit & Charity Evaluators (Lists several info resources and tips)

Charity Navigator

Charity Watch

GuideStar

BBB Wise Giving Alliance

Animal Charity Evaluators

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jolante van Hemert Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Dave O Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Richard Collinson 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 Holiday, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Conference Exercise That Made Me Think


What was I looking for among my mother’s things? I told the truth, “A box, maybe an envelope; I am looking for the love and respect that I never got while she was alive.”

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | December 3, 2014

After reading the post, Great (and Not So Great) Expectations  from two weeks ago, I received a comment from a reader that had a childhood not unlike many of us. I was so touched that I would like to share that with you.

“It makes me remember how I would have loved to be constantly told that I’m worth it. That everything will happen for me. I guess I need to start saying these to myself.” ~Anonymous

One year at a Parents Anonymous conference, I took part in a workshop in which the speaker talked about several aspects of parenting and then led us into an activity that forever changed how I thought about things we say to our children.

To begin the exercise, she dimmed the lights and asked everyone to close their eyes and relax.

She first asked us to imagine the place where we lived as a child: the furniture, the curtains, the lighting and so on.

There’s my bed, my desk and dresser – ugh, and those awful curtains! It’s curious how we remember so much with such vivid detail.

Next she asked us to imagine our parents standing in front of us: what they were wearing, how they smelled, their faces and so on.

Mom wears shorts in the garden and Tabu perfume, Dad likes Old Spice and dresses in work clothes. Their faces depended on whether or not I was in trouble.

The workshop speaker asked us to think about things our parents said us when we were kids.

Dad was not verbally abusive but Mom said several things that are burned into my memory: “Just look at her and she cries,” “Good for nothing,” “Lazy,” “Useless,” “Like tits on a boar,” “It’s just alligator tears.” My mother had her own baggage left over from her own childhood, I’m sure, and she could never let go of that.

Then the speaker said for each of us to imagine the things we would have liked for our parents to say to us.

You could have heard a pin drop.

In a few seconds, you could hear people – mothers and fathers – begin to sniffle. Many of us wiped at our faces and blew our noses. Being overwhelmed with emotion was embarrassing but the exercise showed those of us in the audience that most of us do not get the support and attention we wanted and need as children. I would like to say that I did not cry but I did. If I could have seen this coming I would have excused myself and left the room long before it got started.

My parents were cold and distant. My mother turned me away when I asked for help; the abuse I was experiencing from my older brother was never stopped or punished. That told me loud and clear that I had no value; I was worthless and anyone was more important than I.

What I would have wanted to hear is something that turns over in my mind often: “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong to whip you,” “I should have listened and protected you,” “You are just as important to me as your brothers.”

We know how situations like this play out in life: low self-esteem kids tend to allow others to abuse them as well. We feel somehow as if we asked for abuse and trouble always came our way. I remind you of this, not to gain sympathy, but to show you how important it is for parents and others to guard and nurture children’s self-esteem.

What can you do at this stage in your parenting career?

Because children do remember the smallest details for a very long time, do not delay another minute. Children need to hear from the most important person in their lives, just how important and loved they truly are.

Parents can not only show their children how important and loved they are, but to tell them. Hearing those words from parents is giving them the very gift kids want and need most. If you think, ‘I show my child they are loved,’ I am here to tell you that children still need to hear the words. And I don’t think it matters how old the kids are.

People around children, like relatives and school teachers, can use words to tell a child that they matter, that they are as important as any other child, including the ‘class pet.’

Many parents like me who grew up with parents who were not affectionate, may not be comfortable expressing those feelings. I understand and sympathize with that. But more important than our being comfortable is our kids need to hear those words to validate that emotion. Start small, practice saying the words while you are alone. Work up to something simple like, ‘You are the coolest kid’ or ‘You are so special.’ When parents feel more at ease then begin with language that has more impact like, ‘I love you more than million bucks’ or ‘I need you to know how much you are loved.’

When my mother died in 1996, we looked through her home for things we wanted or could use. I was looking for something special, an envelope perhaps. I searched her dresser drawers and in her file box.

An odd relative, one we rarely ever saw, was watching me and finally, “You seem to be looking for something; what are you looking for?”

I told the truth, “A box, maybe an envelope; I am looking for the love and respect that I never got while she was alive.”

Chins dropped and glances shot back and forth but I did not care. Those people on the outside never knew or could imagine what I went through with her as my mother. I would have been the happiest human being alive if I had found that envelope, the one that no doubt never existed.

We all need to hear positive messages and even more importantly, that we need to give those messages to others, especially our children. Positive messages are not flattery or empty praise; they are heartfelt and genuine. It takes courage to admit something like that to the world, that we have needs and worthiness, but we all do – every single one of us.

Recently I put a poster on Facebook… “Behind every child with low self-esteem stands a parent with low self-esteem.” ~Tinker

The idea of a pen name always intrigued me – I am Tinker. As a child I wrote poetry on various topics as Tinker: love, animals, God and even racism. I put those poems together in a little notebook. My mother threw all of my writings away; to her they had no value either.

In the 17 years I lived at home there was not a single hug or kiss from my mother. Because children do remember the smallest details for a very long time, do not delay another minute. Children need to hear from the most important person in their lives, just how important and loved they truly are. Do it.

Note: I apologize for any repetition in themes but please be patient with the damaged, imperfect human being that I am and know that my #1 goal here, is to prevent more of people like me.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Andy Roberts Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Eric Peacock 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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, Self-Esteem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Gratitude Paradox: Teaching What Works


Media spending pressures begin before Halloween and only increases during the holiday frenzy. It does not have to be that way; parents do have the option to control the money flow.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 26, 2014

Halloween is when the first inklings of holiday music appear but Thanksgiving is the true ready-set-go that unleashes the December frenzy. Many parents feel powerless to do anything but go with the status quo flow.

Children begin to make lists of things they want early; some children don’t even ask, they demand.

Long before families tire of turkey leftovers, children begin to make lists of things they want; some children don’t even ask, they demand. Goods are chased down, put on credit cards then wrapped and put under the tree. This is all done as a family ritual – a tradition – begun long ago to make people happy and spread joy.

In January, though, the advertisements show up for loan consolidations and bankruptcy to deal with credit card debt from spreading too much cheer. Even before Thanksgiving, the commercials begin for diets and weight-loss pills, exercise machines and health clubs, all from overindulging and overspending.

The ones at the center of all this madness are the young, watching and learning as they grow their wants list and look through catalogs to see what the TV might have missed. Before THE day arrives, anticipation builds in their minds, dreams of how it is going to be. The day after all this, with the paper and ribbons headed to a landfill and the presents stacked high, many children wear a look of disappointment. Is that all there is?

Tutoring and mentoring is a wonderful volunteer activity for teens that indirectly benefit greatly by helping others.

Teaching children gratitude is a paradox; it’s both easy and difficult at the same time. Parents want to give their children more than they had as kids and I understand that, really I do. But resisting the urge to buy our children the latest gadgets and toys is very hard. What is even harder is the media pressure to shop and spend; there are sales, markdowns, in-store specials and Black Friday that has almost become a holiday tradition on its own. According to the retailers, though, to “save” incredible amounts of money you must first spend money. Resisting the coercion can be exhausting since it follows you at home, on the Internet, in your car radio and on billboards.

According to what I have heard and read, the number one way to teach children gratitude remains… give children less material goods.

Remember, it is not about not celebrating, it is about taking control of the amount. To make the situation easier parents can prepare their children ahead of time. Decide the acceptable dollar amount for each child and then stick to that amount. When children are young, the real challenge, though, may be relatives who insist on giving too many presents. The older a child is, though, the harder it may be for parents since the pattern has been set; for this child a discussion of values and what parents aim to teach should be in the forefront.

Teens who give to others by volunteering in soup kitchens and other activities come to appreciate how much they have.

No matter how parents go about giving less, turning off the media would slow the pressure to shop and buy. Finding activities for the entire family like volunteering and community service can teach gratitude and also create lasting memories.

Our family ended the gift giving to anyone outside the four of us when Chelsey was about four and Katie was a little over a year old. We bought modest presents and gave them the morning after our family sleepover, Christmas day. Many relatives were skeptical and gave the kids gifts anyway but for the most part, they eventually understood our goal and let go. The first thing I noticed was our stress levels lowering; next was watching other people still caught up in the gifting frenzy.

Realizing the need to fit in, Chelsey and Katie were given the choice in high school whether or not to buy gifts for their school friends. What I noticed was that they only gave a few gifts and the gifts they did give were more meaningful. Now that they are adults, whether they give gifts or not is entirely up to them. I am glad, though, that they will have the experience from our perspective.

Whatever other parents do is a matter of personal choice of course, just like ours was. There is no single, absolute right or wrong answer. I am interested, though, how other parents teach gratitude in their families.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Ron Zack Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Katy Stoddard Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of US Department of Education Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of SJU Undergraduate Admissions 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Great (and Not So Great) Expectations


When Katie came into her ‘artist’ stage and was using our basement as her studio, I made a sign for the upstairs door: Do Not Disturb – Artist At Work!

Expectations can either elevate or deflate us, depending on how it comes into play.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 19, 2014

In my Parents Anonymous Group, the topic of expectations came up for discussion after a parent called their child a “pig” and a “slob.” The facilitator said we should set expectations with our children. If we called them negative names like ‘pig’ and ‘slob’ then it would become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Even though I was not the parent, that very day I began calling Chelsey and Katie ‘ladies’ without knowing whether it would influence them or not. The first few times saying ‘ladies’ I was met with strange looks from both girls but it soon became the norm. The odd thing is that I also felt better using ‘lady’ or ‘ladies’ rather than ‘hey you’ or ‘hey kids.’

Was speaking about the girls as ‘ladies’ effective? I must admit that I never felt like a lady myself but looking at my daughters Chelsey and Katie – they are ladies today. As adults they wear makeup, dress nicely and behave well when they go out in public so I would say my expectations were met.

There are many positive expectation labels parents can choose from: Sports star, math whiz, debater, peacemaker, mountain climber and so on.

Children hear you when you speak with others about them; using positive labels can have a lasting effect. Chelsey and Katie were my Van Goh and Stephen King, or at the very least, artist, chef, writer and editor. In this case, kids set the expectation and parents support that dream in whatever way they can:

When Katie came into her ‘artist’ stage and was using our basement as her studio, I made a sign for the upstairs door: Do Not Disturb – Artist At Work!

Because of Chelsey’s resilience and tenacity I dubbed her ‘my hero,’ a term used even today

Labeling any child (or adult) with a negative name chips away at their and the parent’s self-esteem and can have a profound negative effect. Call a child a slob and they will lose interest in trying to clean their room and give up; expectations, unfortunately, will be met.

Gender issues often come up when discussing expectations. When parents have children of both genders, it is important they think about what they say to their children:

Parent to son: “Great muscles! I bet you’ll make a great athlete someday.”

Parent to daughter: “Look at you… you are so pretty!”

Expectations for boys are often laid out from birth but girls’ expectations can be lacking and it is not only by parents, friends and relatives join in. That is not all… Toy manufacturers plaster boy images on trucks, chemistry sets and sports equipment while girl images don doll and play-house items they assume appropriate. Don’t look now but parents may be sharing the same deodorants and razors packaged with feminine or masculine colors.

Parents can also place invisible limits on their children by things they say:

“You don’t want to be a rodeo rider – that is so dangerous!”

“You don’t want to be a cook – they don’t make much money.”

Parents need not examine every word spoken to their child; parenting is not that difficult or complicated. Parents spend the most time with their children so developing expectations to fit their values is important. That ‘cute’ little girl can decide how she looks accepting her Ph.D. in science or math.

What should parents expect?

Expect great things… Impress upon children the value of education, of kindness, cooperation and mutual respect in the family. Take children to libraries on a regular basis and ask children questions about their interests. Provide children equally with information and experiences to enhance what they already know. If a child is interested in archaeology then envision them, of either sex, discovering a new prehistoric creature and support their dreams to get there.

Parents may be unknowingly placing limits on children by expressing doubt. That doubt can punch a great big hole in greatness. When doubt creeps in you can show it the door by saying ‘what if’ and allowing kids to work out the details.

Now, in another semi-related form, expectations can be disappointing but is 100% avoidable if parents keep it real.

Parents may say, “We are going to have such great fun visiting Grandma and Grandpa!” But what happens is the children have nothing to do because they live in a retirement community and there are no activities or children their ages in the area – complaining comes next. Realistic expectations could have prepared the children for the visit.

Parents could say, “We are visiting Grandma and Grandpa because we love them; you may be bored so take a book and games to fill those not-so-fun times.” The expectation is that the visit will happen no matter what and that by preparing, children can still have fun.

Bookworm or Slob; which label would you choose for your child? Which label would you want for yourself?

The holidays come in with a blast the day after Halloween and media pumps up the wants lists and expectations to incredible proportions. To keep children’s expectations in check, parents can explain their plans for the holidays, how much they will spend or even not celebrating at all. Some families now volunteer together during the holidays to teach children gratitude for what they do have.

After the December holidays, many talk of the let-down feeling that comes when expectations are not met with reality and it is not only the children complaining. Parents are responsible for setting expectations that match reality to even out moods, frustration and disappointment.

Tip: Do not label your child with a name you would not like for yourself.

How do you help children set expectations? Share your expertise with others.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Kerri Lee Smith Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of iwona_kellie Under Flicker/CC License.
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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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, Self-Esteem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Parents Anonymous and STEP Changed Our Outcomes


Rage and anger might have fueled the train but, thankfully, Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer were in the engineer’s seat.

Stopping my anger was like trying to stop a runaway train and I could almost predict what would happen if child protective services got involved.

This is the edition of “Parenting Young Children” I began using; it was with this book that I realized that as a parent, I did have options.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 12, 2014

Thankfully, Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer were there for me and they were not a law firm.

The Parents Anonymous meetings offered choices in parenting style without judgment or pressuring parents to adhere to any one option. The Freehold, New Jersey group chose Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), Parenting Young Children by Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., Gary D. McKay and James S. Dinkmeyer. The STEP book became my go-to resource for solutions. I loved the nonviolent discipline offered within its pages and that the books adapted as my children grew. STEP was also easy to read and understand and even better – it was practical and, as its label stated, it was effective.

This edition was updated with only a few minor changes that would enable parents to take control of their lives and the stress in it.

Before the topic of ‘problem ownership’ I had been constantly besieged with decisions on how to handle an issue, if it was important or serious and what consequence to give. Like turning on a light bulb, though, deciding who owned the problem helped my family immediately.

STEP gave four questions to help parents decide who is responsible for a particular problem:

1. Does the problem interfere with my rights as a person?
2. Does the problem interfere with the safety of my child or others?
3. Does the problem involve the protection of property?
4. Is my child developmentally incapable (too young or disabled) of “owning” or solving the problem?

If parents answered “yes” to any of those questions then parents owned the problem. If the answer is “no” then children own the problem, depending on the age of the child.

Parenting teens was less stressful since the groundwork was put in place when my girls were much younger.

An example: I got both kids up for breakfast, dressed and then off to school. If one child forgot their homework or book, they owned the problem. They could decide if they wanted to take their consequence from the teacher (drop in grade, detention, etc.) or if they wanted me to drive to the school and bring it to them for a $5 fee. More often than not they chose for me to bring the homework/book to them at school and they paid me the $5 charge.

No, I didn’t need the $5 that would come out of their allowance but the ‘pain’ of financial loss may make them more careful about getting their things ready the night before. Doing this also eliminated the usual arguments and nagging: “Why did you forget?” “Why didn’t you get it together last night?” Deciding who owned the problem also erased any temptation to say anything labeling them as thoughtless or careless. Over time there were fewer needless trips to school.

With these STEP books and the support of Parents Anonymous’ weekly meetings, I was able to change the direction we were headed in to have a better outcome.

Deciding who owns the problem does not apply in every case such as sibling fights or playing hooky from school but it is a technique children can easily learn and take with them into their adult lives. The stress reduction is immeasurable and relationships remain intact.

The STEP books can be found on any online used book seller like Amazon or by googling “Dinkmeyer STEP” books and they are quite affordable. Used books are graded according to condition and may come from a variety of dealers. Shipping is a factor to consider and it can add to the total price; Amazon Prime is what I use for a reasonable annual fee (See Amazon.com for details). I recently bought four STEP parenting books to give to parents for $24.21 with a new cost value of at least $20 each.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Jayson Shenk Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Many thanks to Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer.

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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

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

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Parents Anonymous’ Bonus Effect


Members in group dealt with many concerns: lack of money, abusive spouses, school problems, transportation, legal difficulties, housing, employment, health, religious differences and the ever present parenting issues.

“Parents Anonymous is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” I’d say, and the next question is, “If it works so well, then why did you attend for so long?”

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 5, 2014

The answer to that was easy: “Little kids have little problems, bigger kids have bigger problems; no single parenting solution solves all the problems parents encounter.”

Thinking about that I realize, though, that attending the Parents Anonymous Group did something else for me. What was that?

During the week I would be stressed over various things that may seem trivial to some but to me seemed upsetting stressful. Weekends were even more stressful because Mr. Ramirez would be home all the time and he often picked on the kids. When I could, I would try to take the kids out for an activity or to visit a friend. As Monday rolled around the stress eased up somewhat until I could make it to group – Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

The peaceful drive to group each week gave me time to think of one or two main issues I needed to address.

On my way to each meeting I thought about what I needed to talk about or things I wanted to ask the group as a whole. Issues were often about my anger (how not to blow up), homework, messy rooms, school or teacher problems and issues concerning my husband’s abusive tendencies. I would choose one or two things to talk about to make the best use of my portion of time.

When members came into the room where group met, we signed in with our first name and a phone number so we could be reached in case of a meeting cancellation. I was usually the first parent there but I would sign in at line six or seven because I did not like being the first to speak.

Raven would often talk about the lack of transportation or money problems. Develyn was very funny but talked about serious problems with an out-of-control child. Caroline was determined that she had the “child from hell” or “the neediest child ever born” and vowed not to have another. There was Annette who worried over everything concerning the three kids and found out she was pregnant yet again. Lacey wanted to go back to work as a journalist but was wrapped up in raising her child. Elaine had three adopted children that were all incredibly difficult with one who was diagnosed with Asperger’s that could scream for hours for no reason at all.

Hearing about other members’ problems helped me to clear the fog and put things into proper perspective, as if I were wearing magic glasses.

A curious thing happened as I listened to each member, my problems all paled in comparison. Mr. Ramirez’s salary allowed me to stay home and raise Katie and Chelsey without too much pressure, my tubes were tied so there would be no more children and the kids were respectful and rarely ever fought. At least while my children were young, my only two recurring problems were dealing with my anger and protecting the girls when their dad blew his top.

Perspective: How much easier life would be if we could all put on magic glasses that enabled us see problems in their proper perspective!

After the weekly Parents Anonymous Group on Tuesdays I always felt much better about my troubles, such as they were. The group gave each of us an opportunity to be heard or to vent and to get feedback from others. We shared our experiences and learned from each other. Members encouraged each other for successes large and small. I always imagined my group standing with me when I had to do something hard but important.

In all that time something else magical happened… We bonded in ways that we never expected. This past October we held a rather informal reunion and found that some of us would like to continue meeting, which makes me extremely happy.

You may come to Parents Anonymous for support and solutions but you may get more than you expect, a journey that never ends.

“Thank you to all my Freehold Sisters.”

PHOTO: Courtesy of Daniel Hoherd Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Thiago Martins Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Dave Sutherland 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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

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Stroking: What It Is and How It Works


The wife appreciates him not swearing and he is glad he made the effort to clean up his speech.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 29, 2014

“Stroking” is something that one of our Parents Anonymous facilitator mentioned often to members. It is such a simple thing, really, but something we may not think of too often. Stroking is a powerful tool that can potentially turn around moods and attitudes between people and does not require touching in spite of the label.

What is stroking?

The child was happy Mom noticed the neat handwriting and plans to continue putting forth extra effort.

Stroking is bringing attention to something specific that a person has done or created that you genuinely appreciate. When you stroke someone you bring attention the act or creation and tell the person responsible exactly what it is that you like about it. Stroking may even replace some nagging reminders. Stroking is a gentle nudge to the ego of the other person for whatever reason.

What is NOT stroking?

Stroking is NOT a ‘Thank You’ that should be a regular comment of gratitude and appreciation.

Stroking is NOT flattery; flattery is empty, meaningless praise, usually to get something in return.

Stroking is NOT a command but does encourage more of a particular behavior or action.

Example: A child that usually had messy handwriting actually took time to write a book report that was neat and clearly written.

Mom: “I notice you took special care on this book report; I like the punctuation and the spacing of your letters. It shows me that your handwriting is maturing.”

The child’s ego is stroked because their efforts were noticed and appreciated. As a result, the child may make a point to work on improving their future handwriting.

Example: The husband who usually left clothes and shoes strewn about put things neatly away.

Wife: “Honey, I noticed you put your shoes in the shoe rack and dirty clothes in the hamper. I appreciate that; it really helps me when I don’t have to search for laundry.”

The husband is surprised that his wife even noticed; he really never knew it helped her so much to put dirty clothes in the hamper.

Stroking or noticing the neatly packed belonging may have turned the tide between the divorcing couple and that helps children adjust.

Example: Parent to spouse who peppers their speech with swears.

Parent: “You haven’t been swearing today; I enjoy our time together more when you don’t swear.”

The spouse has been trying to stop using foul language and is happy someone noticed and appreciates the difference.

Example: Divorcing parents’ incessant needling can find common ground.

1st Parent: “I like how you neatly packed all of our child’s belongings for visitation; our child benefits when we don’t argue.”

The 2nd Parent appreciates that the 1st Parent even noticed and sees their child does look happier.

Stroking is a tool we all own that does not cost a penny and can help things go smoother… and I think that is something we can all use.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Nathan Colquhoun Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Carissa Rogers Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Catd_mitchell 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 Communication, How-To | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Veterans Day Resources


Veterans Day is an official United States holiday that honors all people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and are known as veterans. Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day which is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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*The contents of Veterans Day Resources are not about current politics; blogs and links will not be added to the resources with any current political messages.

**Hover your mouse over link for more information.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. Inscription: Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

A Million Thanks

Any Soldier

ASBP – Armed Services Blood Program

Give 2 The Troops

Letters To Soldiers

Operation Hero Miles

Packages From Home

Wounded Warrior Project

RESOURCES

100 Ways to Honor a Veteran

101 Ways to Thank a Veteran

1914-1918 The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century

376th Heavy Bombardment Group, Inc. Veterans Association

Celebrate America’s Freedoms – Collection Summary

The VFW poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.

Celebrate Veterans Day with Your Children

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Directory of Veterans Service Organizations

Experiencing War: Vietnam War

History of Veterans Day

Honoring Those Who Served: 11 Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day

Honoring Veterans

In Flanders Field Museum

Kids Thank A Veteran

Korean War Project

Medal of Honor Recipient Burials

Memorial Sites and Burials

Military Figure Burials

Mission to Honor Veterans Hub

Navajo Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers and the Unbreakable Code

Navajo Code Talkers History

November 11: Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day

Quotations for Veterans Day

Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day Coloring Pages

Resources about Veterans and Veterans Day

The Wounded Warriors program honors and empowers veterans like Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry and Sgt. Toby Montoya.

Teaching Kids About Veterans Day

The Gulf War – Desert-Storm

The World War I Document Archive

USS Liberty Memorial

VAntage Point – Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2014

Veterans Day Activities

Veterans Day Activities, Grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12

Veterans Day Crafts Ideas & Projects For Kids

Veterans Day Crafts, Projects, Worksheets, Books, and Printouts

Veterans Day Ceremonies at VA National Cemeteries

Veterans Day: Everything You Need

Veterans Day For Kids: Interview with a Tuskegee Airman

Staff Sgt. Kimura Helwig is a member of Friends of Veterans volunteer group, an organization that hosts various events for veterans throughout the year.

Veterans Day in United States

Veterans Day Kids Classrooms Activities Crafts

Veterans Day Quiz

Veterans Day Songs

Veterans Day Teacher Resource Guide

Veterans Day Teacher Resource Guide

Veterans Day – Teacher Resources

Veterans History Project

Veterans History Project Search Page

Vietnam Veterans of America

VETERANS DAY WORD SEARCHES

Veterans Day – 1

By volunteering with veterans, children can get a living history lesson and an appreciation of the sacrifices of veterans and their families.

Veterans Day – 2

Veterans Day – 3

Veterans Day – 4

Veterans Day – 5

Veterans Day – 6

Veterans Day – 7

Veterans Day – 8

Veterans Day – 9

Veterans Day – 10

BLOGGERS & INDIVIDUAL STORIES

American Experience: Fly Girls

A Tribute to my Father, Joseph Philip Gomer

A Tribute to the Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force

Aviation Trails

Dad’s CBI Page – China, Burma, India

Dad’s War – Finding and Telling Your Father’s World War II Story

Fix Bayonets!

The veteran in this photograph prepares to play taps at a concert as evident by the white gloves.

Pacific Paratrooper

Taps Historian and Bugler

World War II Memoirs of Richard Morton Hess

VIDEOS

History’s Heroes: Normandy Veterans Return to France for the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

Honor Thy Fallen: A Memorial Day Tribute 2014

My Veterans & Memorial Day Tribute

Native American Veterans — Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day

The Meaning of Memorial Day – “Freedom is Never Free” – A Vietnam Veteran’s Tribute

Tribute To American Soldiers Vintage Veterans Film Military History Documentary

Veterans Day

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day Tribute

Veterans Day Facts

Tireless volunteers across the country prepare for Veterans Day by adorning veterans’ graves with a small American flag.

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Served

Veterans Day / Memorial Day Tribute

Veterans Day Tribute

Veterans History Project 10th Anniversary

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Stories

VETERANS MEMORIALS

Australian War Memorial

Military History, Memorials, and Monuments

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Wall-USA

The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial

VietnamWall.org

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

PHOTO: Courtesy of Tony Fischer Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Kenneth Moyle Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of The U.S. Army Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of US Air Force Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Garry Wilmore Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Craig Piersma Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of DVIDSHUB 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 Holiday, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Halloween: Toes, Worms and Eyeballs


Katie telling Scary Stories gave young children wonderful memories that have lasted a lifetime.

Great memories sometimes only need a little planning and an active imagination.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 22, 2014

As a teenager Katie provided childcare for our Parents Anonymous Group caring for young kids while parents met. She planned activities for each meeting like reading stories or creating artworks. One week Katie planned to read children’s Scary Stories with a bonus… scary things to touch. She peeled several grapes (eyeballs), cooked a small amount of spaghetti (worms) and an ordinary prune (old man’s toe). The items were not to be seen by the kids so the grapes and prune were put inside separate paper bags and the spaghetti was put inside a plastic bag and then inside a paper bag. At the appropriate times during the story Katie announced to the children that each bag held an item: an old man’s toe, eyeballs and worms that they could touch but not see. The children shrieked and squealed and loved it. I recently connected with the children’s mother again and she told me her boys still talk about that day and the old man’s toe even though they are ten years older.

Using two Bundt cakes put together can make a perfectly festive jack-o’-Lantern.

Jack-O’-Lantern Cake
Two Bundt cakes put together makes a perfect pumpkin. Orange frosting and creative vision and you will have an edible jack-o’-lantern cake for party goers.

Blood and Bones
Breadsticks formed like bones with marinara sauce for blood is sure to get imaginations going. Use canned breadsticks from the refrigerator case. Cut each breadstick in half and shape the end into ‘bones.’ Bake as directed and let cool. Party guests dip ‘bones’ into marinara sauce ‘blood’ and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Ghoulish Punch
Fill a clean rubber glove with children’s drink mix or orange juice. Bend the fingers downward and place in the freezer. On the party day, carefully cut the glove off and place the ghoulish hand into the punch bowl.

A creepy frozen hand floating in the punch will get kids giggling.

Pond Scum
For ‘ew’ effect, fill clear plastic party glasses with green gelatin. Before the gelatin has finished hardening, stir in a few wiggly gummy worms.

Spider Snacks
Smooth peanut butter on a cracker. Break pretzels into pieces for legs, 4 on each side. Put 2 raisins at one end of the cracker for eyes.

Edible Eyeballs
For each eyeball you need 1 powdered donut hole, 1 Gummy Life Saver for the iris and 1 chocolate chip for the pupil. Use a tube of red icing to glue the parts in place and to add ‘blood’ veins to make the eyeball look bloodshot.

Spider Cupcakes
Make cupcakes according to directions and then let cool. Frost the cupcakes with chocolate or vanilla frosting. Cut licorice sticks lengthwise twice. Place 4 on each side for legs and use 2 candy coated chocolate pieces for eyes.

Easy to make and fun to eat, Dirt Nap Pie will get imaginations running wild!

Dirt Nap Pie
Finely crumble 30 chocolate sandwich cookies and mix with 2 large packages of chocolate pudding mix, cooked and cooled. Mix in 2 packages of gummy worms, saving a few to sprinkle on top.

Magic Wands
Dip long pretzel rods into chocolate and then rolled into sugar sprinkles to look like a magic wand.

We Three Ghosts Are
(Sung to the tune of ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’)

We three ghosts of Halloween are
Scaring kids who wander too far.
Trick or treating, candy eating,
Beware the Halloween Star.
Oh…………Oh……………
Star of darkness, star of fright,
Star of every gruesome sight.
West winds howling, cats a-yowling,
Let’s play some tricks tonight!

Trick or Treater Set to Go
(Sun to the tune of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’)

I am a trick or treater set to go
Here is my flashlight, I’ll walk slow
I’ll always thank you for my treats
And I never run across the street!
Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Children have but one short childhood and it is these fun times are going to be the memories that give children comfort when they are adults and have kids of their own.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Steph Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Jess Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of the Master Experimenter Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Pedro Vera 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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 Fun, Holiday, Holidays, How-To | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Halloween and Mischief Night Safety for Children


There is power in numbers! Children should go out in pairs or groups, the more the better. Instruct kids not to stray from the group. Parent or guardian should stand within clear view when children knock on the door.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | Revised October 8, 2014

It is a child’s job to have fun on Halloween and it is a parent’s job to keep them safe while they do that.

Mischief Night

“Mischief Night” or “Devil’s Night,” the night before Halloween, some children may take part in playing pranks with friends. These pranks can be relatively harmless like toilet papering trees and bushes, soaping windows and ringing doorbells and running away. Others can be harmful like eggs filled with hair-removing foam, arson, tossed cabbages and cemetery vandalism.

Cemeteries are dangerous any time, especially after dusk; trips, falls, animals, snakes or tipped gravestones put prank visitors at high risk. Vandalism reaches a peak during Mischief Night and Halloween.

If you are a parent of a teenager or a preteen you will want to have a serious discussion concerning their possible role in Mischief Night pranks and the law. If your child is with a group that gets caught vandalizing a cemetery— even if they did not take part— they will be held just as accountable as the teen who broke headstones or spray-painted memorials. In other words— parents or guardians will end up paying a portion of the damages that could possibly add up to thousands of dollars, plus the costs of attorney’s fees… well, you get the message.

Another risk for children can be unintended injury to themselves. Recent vandalism was to cemetery markers that weighed as much as 2,000 pounds apiece. Just imagine a child on the wrong side of that headstone as it was pushed and toppled over.

Parents can role play with children how to excuse themselves from illegal behavior:

“That sounds like fun but my parents would be mad if I did something like that – I am going home.”

“Are you insane?! I’m going home where people are sane.”

“This is wrong; I’m not getting involved in vandalism.”

When one child stands up and flatly refuses to vandalize or other illegal acts it will give other kids the courage to walk away, too. Perhaps now would be the time to also bring up civic responsibility and proper respect of cemeteries.

Organize Safe Fun for Any Age

The safest option for Halloween is to have a party organized for a group of friends from school, church, family or other group. Children from age two enjoy dressing up, playing pretend and having delicious goodies available to eat. Making decorations they help create gives a sense of pride and ownership in helping. Kids helping to plan the refreshments and treats to be served only increases the excitement. Halloween themed games and age appropriate scary movies will provide enough laughs, giggles and squeals for one and all!

Pumpkin Carving

Young children should not carve pumpkins. The youngsters can use a marker to draw a face then have parents cut the actual pumpkin.

• On a sturdy surface have children pull out the pumpkin seeds that can be toasted and enjoyed as a treat.
• Young children should not use knives to carve pumpkins. Children can use a marker to draw a face then have parents or older sibling cut the actual pumpkin. Children can also paint pumpkins instead of cutting them so they remain edible.
• Use a thick cloth or apron and wear gloves to prevent injuries when cutting with a sharp knife.
• Be aware of any hands nearby, especially your own. Ask children to watch from a safe distance.
• Saw with a short, serrated blade rather than slicing; straight edged blades are not recommended.
• Always point the blade away from you.
• Use a flashlight, glow stick or light-emitting diodes (LED) in place of a candle. If you must use a candle, then a small votive is the best bet.
• Pumpkins with a candle should be placed in a safe, sturdy location away from any high-traffic areas to prevent fires.

Trick-or-Treating

• Feed children a light snack before going out so it will be easier to resist temptation before parents check treats for tampering.
• Costumes should not restrict free movement of feet, legs, arms or hands. Costumes that are too baggy or too tight could easily tangle or trip kids.
• Costumes should not impair their vision or ability to breathe.
• Makeup is much safer than any mask. Test a small amount of makeup a couple of days beforehand to make sure it is safe to use. If there is any swelling, rash or other adverse reaction, discard it.
• Be wary of wearing any contact lenses that were not prescribed by a doctor and packaged by professionals.
• Store-bought costumes and masks should be labeled as fire retardant, fire resistant or fireproof.
• Wigs, hats or headgear should be labeled as flame resistant.
• Props like swords, daggers, laser guns, knives, canes, brooms and so on should be harmless. Toy guns and realistic replicas are a bad idea.
• A child or their costume should be easily seen by drivers or have reflective materials attached.
• Flashlights, glow sticks, glow bracelets, glow necklaces, reflective tape or LED lights are all helpful for visibility.
• Do not shine a flashlight or laser at vehicles or into the eyes of drivers; blinded drivers could have an accident or strike trick-or-treaters.

Take care with pets to prevent the escape or biting of trick-or-treaters. A dog’s feelings may be hurt if locked in a bedroom for three hours but it will be safe from harm.

• There is power in numbers! Children should trick-or-treat in pairs or groups, the more the better. Instruct kids not to stray from the group.
• Children should be supervised by a responsible, trusted adult or older child while trick-or-treating.
• Create a trick-or-treating map or route to follow and make sure another family member has a copy. Make a list of trick-or-treaters’ costumes who will be with the group: Adam-pirate, Barbara-princess, Candis-fairy, Diana-ghost and so on. A group photo would be a help in the event of an emergency.
• The chaperone should have a cell phone, watch and know their location at any given time during the outing. Time will pass quickly so a time limit should be established with children before going out.
• The chaperone should stand so they can be seen by the person opening the front door. Just like store greeters, standing by sends a clear message.
• Children should only knock or ring the doorbell and never enter a home without a parent’s prior permission.
• Children should only approach homes that are well-lit and/or decorated for Halloween. Do not touch any decorations, especially any lit by candles.
• Do not approach overly cluttered or unsafe driveways, walkways or entrances. Unfamiliar areas could increase the likelihood of tripping or falling.
• Stay on sidewalks or the shoulders of roads and never run across a street or roadway without looking both ways. Cross only at corners or crosswalks.
• Walk only, no running.
• Keep in mind that it’s harder to judge distances correctly at dusk or after dark.
• Do not use shortcuts or go into isolated areas. Do not cut through backyards or parks.
• Do not enter closed gates where animals could be present.
• Children should never approach people in vehicles unless instructed to do so by a parent. Never accept a ride from a anyone.
• Instruct children that if anyone tries to pull or carry them anywhere to kick and resist while yelling, “Help! Fire! This is not my father/mother.”
• Have children bring all treats home for a closer inspection by adults. Discard any loose or unwrapped treats. Throw out any homemade treats. Examine fruit and discard suspicious items. Be wary of small candies as a choking hazard in households with small children. Better yet, throw out anything not commercially packaged and sealed.
• Say, “Thank you,” to people whether you get a lot of treats or nothing at all.

Halloween is a fun time that children will remember for a lifetime and with a little planning and care it will also be safe. Children are not developmentally ready to make 100% sound judgments about safety so parents and caregivers must fill that gap until they are capable.

Halloween does not only happen out in the neighborhood, it happens at home, too.

Halloween Safe at Home

• Take care with pets to prevent an escape or the biting of trick-or-treaters. A pet’s feelings may be hurt if locked in a bedroom for three hours but it will certainly be safe from harm.
• Never invite trick-or-treating children into your home.
• Never leave your home unattended on Halloween night as burglars or vandals may visit.
• Never leave a child alone to hand out treats unless a responsible adult or teenager is nearby.
• Be especially alert to pedestrians if you must drive on Halloween night. Reducing speed is an added precaution.
• Give small items in sealed packages that are safe for children with or without allergies and reduces concern by parents: Toothbrushes, lip balm, plastic coin holders, noise makers, stickers, pens, pencils, erasers, plastic jewelry, party favors, whistles, balls, puzzles, barrettes, hairpins, combs, toy cars, water color sets, chalks, comic books, crayons and coloring books, travel size shampoos and soaps, plastic figures and animals. Look for safe trick-or-treat items at dollar stores, discount stores, pharmacies and grocery stores.

How can parents deal with all that leftover candy on Halloween?

There are options to the traditional Halloween celebrations; you can donate candy to our military personnel through the Halloween BuyBack Program and your children can learn about helping others through trick-or-treating for UNICEF. Get more information below:

There are many options to use up or get rid of leftover Halloween candy: Donate to organizations, give it to places that have public candy dishes or put candies in recipes.

Halloween Candy Buy Back

Halloween Candy Buy Back Program

Switch Witch

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Parents in my Parents Anonymous group shared a few ideas for you in order to ‘spread the wealth.’ Candy could be donated to a favorite physician’s office for the public candy dish. Local libraries can hand out candy to patrons who return books on time. Candy can be donated to senior citizens’ housing centers. One parent volunteered in a homeless shelter and said they are very grateful for anything they get. Another parent suggested telling kids the Halloween ‘loot’ simply disappeared with a burglar!

There are many creative desserts that can be whipped up with little effort from leftover Halloween spoils. One member told the group she froze most of her child’s candy to extend shelf life. Another member told of dipping spoons in melted candies and then wrapping them for stirring her morning coffee – all clever ideas. Take a look at these recipes below:

80+ Desserts To Make With Leftover Halloween Candy

50 Recipes Using Leftover Halloween Candy

Let’s do our best to make sure our children have fun memories this Halloween that do not include a trip to the emergency room… and easy on the treats, Moms and Dads!

Revised from “Mischief Night and Halloween Safety” on 10/15/2012

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Deval Patrick Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Jeff Kramer Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Jackie Saulmon Ramirez Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Russell Adams Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Shehan Peruma Under Flicker/CC License.

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

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

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1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
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Posted in Holiday, How-To, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Easy Parenting Part III – The Don’ts List


Openly disciplining a child in front of others can crush a child’s self-esteem.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 1, 2014

Here are a few don’ts that found their way onto my easy parenting list; some came from the Freehold Parents Anonymous Group members and one came from Chelsey – who felt we were too strict (A sure sign of good parenting!).

Don’t Correct Children in Front of Others
Correcting children is a parent’s duty but doing it in front of others is terribly demeaning and damaging to a child’s self-esteem. When other people see a parent berating a child in public, they don’t think, ‘what a great parent,’ they are thinking, ‘oh that poor child.’ If correction is truly needed immediately then the parent should call the child aside and have a short conversation in private.

Don’t Make Promises
Getting locked into a promise is dangerous for a parents’ credibility. If for some reason parents cannot follow up on the promise then children are disappointed and they may feel they cannot count on a parent’s word. A much better option is to say, “I will try.”

Children need their friends and blurring the line between parent and friend can ultimately weaken a parent’s authority.

Don’t Be Your Child’s Friend
Children may have many friends in their lives but a parent should not be one of them. Parents fill specific duties like setting rules and limits, giving direction, providing basic needs. Friends provide a peer perspective as a listener, confidant and social outlet. Parents and friends cannot swap roles and the relationships remain successful; blurring the line between parent and friend can ultimately weaken a parent’s authority. Kids can tell parents a secret but there are things they would tell a friend that they would never tell their parents. Kids all need secret-keeping friends so parents – stay in the parenting role.

Don’t Be a Dictator
We all are busy and pressed for time but when parents only give instructions, directives or demands then over time the child will stop taking initiative and thinking for themselves. It is normal for all children think their parents are ‘too strict’ but parents must give rules with reasons that allow for free thought and discussion to encourage developmental growth. In the end, parents want a child that is a free-thinking, reasoning human being and not a robotic younger form of themselves.

Don’t Lecture or Preach
The term ‘parent deaf’ came about during the 1960s when parents were told to talk and reason with children but many parents turn short discussions into long-winded lectures with captive audiences. Parents who need to convey ideas or information should think like an editor and cut out unnecessary words so that children hear and remember what is said.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong
Nobody is perfect and that includes parents. Kids remember good and bad examples so it is much easier to admit mistakes than to try to cover it up. Parents can teach children to graciously admit and correct or apologize for the mistake. Private joke: “Yes, Chelsey, you were right, I drove in the wrong direction on I-40.”

Don’t Parent With Money
Sometimes parents try to make up for something they feel is lacking in their children’s lives by buying things or giving in other ways. (Divorced parents often fall into this trap.) If the child’s other parent is not there, having a video game or designer sneakers is not going to fill that void. Honor that pain and loss rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Don’t Forget the Difference Between Bribes and Rewards
Bribes are not planned beforehand; parents are put under pressure for a payoff of some sort and kids are viewed as being in charge. Rewards are usually planned by parents ahead of time and are often given after a behavior or work; rewards are given and received with mutual respect. Tip to remember: Bribes are Bad.
Refer to full article for more information:

“Bribery and Rewards: What’s The Difference?”

Fathers can do everything that mothers can except give birth and breastfeed.

Don’t Exempt Yourself, Fathers
Depending on the sex of the child, fathers and mothers contribute about the same amount of DNA to children. In today’s world there is no reason that a father cannot contribute half the nurture and guidance to a child from birth. Mothers have traditionally filled the role of ‘natural parent expert’ but in reality there is nothing to preclude fathers from learning and performing all the same duties of a mother except giving birth and breastfeeding. Boys and girls both need valuable input from their father. My mantra: You get out of it [parenting] what you put into it.

Don’t Compare Siblings or Friends and Don’t Play Favorites
Comparing siblings is not a new phenomenon; my mother told me that she wished I were like my older brother. I should have told her I wished she were more like someone else, since that is how much sense that makes. Comparing any child is to insult the child they are. Celebrate the one-of-a-kind uniqueness of each child with all their quirks, talents and qualities.

Don’t Spank or Hit Children
To hit a child is like trying to force a size-9 foot into a size-5 shoe – it does not work. The parent who hits a child is a parent that has stopped looking for solutions. If parents need to get a child’s attention then tap them on the shoulder or give them a hug. There is never a good reason to hit a child. Recent studies prove that a child’s DNA can be changed by abuse and IQs of kids subjected to corporal punishment are lower – are there any stronger reasons not to hit a child?

Choosing Corporal Punishment

Don’t Take It Personally
When children bump up against a rule or limit, parents are not going to be popular so it is only natural that the authority in charge will get the flack. Just ask any parent who got a ticket for speeding how happy they were with the officer!

Don’t Discourage a Child’s Interests
Children will have many interests in the first eighteen years of life and those will change periodically. I remember being absorbed by rock collecting, horses, archaeology, anything UFO or Native American, beading, carving, boating and Batman for the short list. Children need to find their way in the world and if parents want to discourage one interest then ten should replace it.

The alarming alar story taught many parents not to panic or act on every news item concerning children.

Don’t Verbally Abuse Children
The best way to influence children is to get their cooperation. Mild looks of disapproval are much more effective than hurting them with words. Abuse might control them for a time but long-lasting change is internal. Verbal abuse damages self-esteem and breaks down the child/parent relationship. Calling a child names can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophesy. My mantra: If you are not building up, you are tearing down.

Don’t Panic Over the Latest Parenting News
Does anyone remember the alar scare of the late 1970s? Alar was sprayed on apples to make harvesting them easier and also helped preserve the apples. It turned out there may have been a risk of cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the chemical was voluntarily removed by the manufacturer even though there was little proof. One of the latest scares is that immunizations are causing autism and some parents have avoided getting the proper preventive inoculations for their kids, thus, causing a very real resurgence in childhood illnesses. For the most part, the basic healthcare in the U.S. is protected and real conditions are made known rather quickly. The take away is that parents should relax and not panic at every news story predicting the end of mankind.

To paraphrase my father words, “Opinions are like noses, we’ve all got one.” Tell me what you think parents should not do?

NOTE: No child or elephant was harmed during the making of this photo.

PHOTO: Child Courtesy of Peasap Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Cameron and Mary Maddux Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Claudio Sabia Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Diogo Martins 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

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

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

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Easy Parenting Part II


From the outside looking inward, couples never imagine how time-intensive parenting will be until they are swamped in diapers, homework and play dates.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 24, 2014

How much trouble could children really be? Ask the parent with 30 minutes to get to appointment who finds the kids dancing through puddles.

Children consume a great deal of effort, energy and attention as they grow but it does get better. The more care and training invested in the first few years, the easier it will become at each age and stage.

Give Children Chores and Responsibilities
Assigning chores to children is to teach kids valuable life skills, responsibility and so that they feel invested in their family; kids hold a stake in the functionality, organization, health, happiness and success of their family unit. When parents do all the work, resentments and entitlement build and mom and dad feel used while children grow up dependent on others.

Allow Kids Room to Succeed or Fail

By age two, many children are capable of doing light a few light chores; by age 18, most children should be proficient with most chores.

Katie was all over the map in terms of what she wanted to try: Writing, all kinds of art, playing different musical instruments and so on. After her first year in college she decided she wanted to travel the world and study how different cultures made and consumed bread. *smiling* That is not a typo – b-r-e-a-d – and we let her try. In their lives, kids need to try new things and to experiment to find out what they are capable of doing and also that if they fail, that it is not the end of the world. The hardest part of giving kids room to try new things is the fear of failure; when kids fail, though, they are inoculated against that fear and more often than not, it makes them succeed in life. (No, Katie did not get an opportunity to study bread around the world but she did learn to bake her own bread instead.)

Recognize Progress
All children attempt things: To make friends, making a bed, training the family pet, walking to school alone and so on. Trying to overcome shyness can be hard; parents coach and provide opportunities but the child may only get up courage to speak to one other child. That is progress, even if a friendship does not result.

Be real: Instead of “That’s the biggest fish I ever saw” try “Your fish is large enough to feed our family!”

Celebrate Accomplishments
Parents and family celebrating accomplishments are important to a child and can increase positive self-esteem. That is not saying that every small deed should get a round of applause and a marching band but when a child struggles to improve their math scores and does, then they deserve for parents to stop and say, “Way to go; you worked hard on that math! To celebrate you get to pick your favorite meal and a movie on the weekend.” Celebrate too much and the act loses its impact, though, and becomes expected. A parent once said that for the celebrations to have meaning they had to “be real” because kids have those built-in crap detectors.

Instill Gratitude and Manners
Pausing to reflect and appreciate things in our lives reminds children how different life could be without. Many give thanks for food before meals, there is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving but it does not end there. Teach children to say ‘Thank You’ for courtesies or gifts and acknowledge those around us. Learning proper manners help a child become more confident in their surroundings and others.

Headed to a play one minute, headed to bed the next; flexible parents are able to change plans or direction at a moments’ notice with little or no upset.

Be Flexible
To borrow the Boy Scout’s motto: Be prepared, means be ready for anything, especially having plans changed. Efficient parents like to plan every waking moment for a child but life and the child may have other plans. An enriching trip to a museum might be better spent letting the child create their own artwork. When parents are about to take the kids to see a great play, a virus may put one child in bed. Life changed the direction but parents can still lead to a memorable time by perhaps putting on a shadow-puppet play with the child. Parents who are flexible are generally happier, well-adjusted and model that flexibility for their children. Children brought up in a flexible household are less stressed.

Letting children manage an allowance teaches life skills they will need like planning, budgeting and saving.

Give Allowance
Giving an allowance and teaching children about money is an important step to maturing and learning to manage their adult finances. Children will experience true gratification as the reward for planning, budgeting and saving. Whether parents give an allowance for doing chores, grades or just for being part of a family – kids need money to manage.

Trust Your Instincts
Nobody knows everything about bringing up kids but if you have no other trusted people to discuss an issue with – parents, friends or Parents Anonymous members – then parents must trust their own gut instincts. That unexplainable internal feeling can be a good guide in many areas having to do with children.

Teach Children Values
Parents decide the principles that they hold in high regard and live by: Truth, hard work, study, kindness, modesty, honesty, accuracy, cooperation, independence, stability, community, family, discretion, justice, efficiency and so on. Parents discuss as well as live by their values and children will often take on similar values. Children may also add or change values according to what fits their adult beliefs.

Children understand that religion as a 7-day a week prospect unless parents teach otherwise.

Faith-Based Instruction
Many believe having faith in their lives is very important and that is wonderful. Teaching children about the parent’s chosen religion and taking them to church, synagogue, mosque or Kingdom Hall is a truly powerful message – but only if parents live their faith. Parents who party and get drunk with friends every weekend then go to church on Sunday may have a difficult time explaining the hypocrisy (Do as I say not as I do). Parents can be atheist and still live morally fit lives. Whatever parents’ choice of faith – even no faith at all – they need to be the example.

NOTE: My parents were the example above and it left me believing in God and Jesus Christ but to me it could not possibly be the religion I was brought up with. As a result I spent most my adult life wandering, trying to find the right one for me. I studied several religions including the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I called my mother on the phone once to ask her a question. When she learned that I was studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses she actually screamed at me saying that her minister father taught her family to hate them with a passion. That outburst taught me all I needed to know about her religion. I did not choose Jehovah’s Witnesses in the end but I will say that they taught me more about the Bible in a few months than I ever learned in my entire childhood.

Children & Puddle Courtesy of Brittany Miller~Martin Under Flicker/CC License.
Dinnertime Courtesy of Jeremy Kunz Under Flicker/CC License.
Shadow Puppets Courtesy of Jimmie Under Flicker/CC License.
Boy & Fish Courtesy of USFWS Fisheries Under Flicker/CC License.
Kids & Money Courtesy of Carissa Rogers 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap

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

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1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
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Posted in How-To, Parenting, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Easy Parenting Part I


Honestly, some of those parenting methods need a PhD to explain how it is supposed to work!

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 17, 2014

Mandated or not, parenting is not an easy job; parenting takes a lot of thought, planning and practice.

A new member to the Parents Anonymous Online Groups once asked me to give her a list of Dos and DON’Ts so she could learn all there was to know about being a good parent. *sigh* She was mandated to be there; I could tell because she did not seem too happy and was in a big hurry. This mom certainly had a lot on her plate with a lot to think about and learn.

Parents need to care for their health because it indirectly affects their children.

Mandated parents are awesome, in my book, because they are sometimes the ones who make such a remarkable turnaround in their parenting skills and attitudes. Why is that? Because once they learn that there are no real shortcuts to parenting and once they master a few simple skills, parenting actually becomes easier. There is no single parenting philosophy or method that works for all children; what worked for one of my children did not work for the other one. My motto: “Do what works.”

Since it is always my goal to help parents with what they ask for I came up with a list of suggestions; this is the first of three parts:

Be a Good Role Model
Being a good role model means treating children the same way we would want them to treat us and acting the way we want them to behave. Kids are watching us all the time; they listen to what we say to them and to others. They also notice when you are not saying something. When someone makes fun of a person with special needs or says something bad about another race and parents do not admonish them – that sends a clear message to kids that what was said is okay. The same goes for forwarding blonde (guilty) and Polish jokes. Sounds like the Golden Rule, doesn’t it? That is why it has remained true after all these years.

Bringing children up with clear rules and limits is important, like holding a parent’s hand in crowded areas.

Take Care of Yourself
Parents want children to be physically, mentally and financially healthy so they need to get regular preventive checkups and healthcare as needed. Planning for your future also means spending wisely, saving and investing what you have for your future. That may mean different things to different folks and each person is responsible for those decisions that affect their children and their future. Smokers should remember that their smoking impacts their children, even if they only light up outdoors. Just about the time kids need money for college, parents may need that money to pay for medicines and doctors to care for smoking-related illnesses and diseases.

Set Clear Rules and Limits
Setting rules that kids understand actually helps reduce their stress, keeps them safe and teaches life skills. (And you thought it was all about being boss!) “No hitting, spitting or swearing” and “Do homework before you go out” are examples of rules that should be posted for children to read and review. I kept our rules on the refrigerator where they looked them over often. Below is my account of Chelsey’s friend Sharon who came to visit and read our rules.

House Rules Posted on the Refrigerator

Be Firm and Consistent
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Parents do themselves and their children a favor by sticking to the rules and following up with consequences if needed. The first time a parent is tired or is not feeling well is the moment those rules are tested. When a parent says “I’ll let it go this time” because they are too busy or “You have been kind to others until today so we’ll just skip it this one time” and all of a sudden all the rules and consequences are in jeopardy. Wishy-washy rules confuse and frustrate children. If the rule needs review, then parents and children can go over the rules together. My motto: “A rule that is not enforced is not a rule.”

Listen as Much as You Talk

Spending time with children shows them that parents love them; conversation can flow easy while involved in activities.

Pay attention when children talk and when they are not talking. Ask open-ended questions; avoid questions that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ “What would you do if your friend wanted you to help him steal?” “Do you think that kid did the right thing standing up with a friend against the bully?” Kids do enjoy hearing parents talk about their childhoods, though, and about the day they were born but using the “I walked through two feet of snow to go to school,” to make a point and eyes begin to roll. I have learned that kids do listen, especially when we give up the floor and let them talk, too.

Show Children Love and Affection
Love is not measured in dollars and cents. No matter what age, all kids want and need love, even when they pull away so their friends do not see parents hug or kiss them. Parents who are not huggers need not be afraid; love can also be expressed by a warm smile, a pat on the back or a note in their lunch. I never got affection from my parents as a child or an adult and that has been a painful experience for me. When I was a child, though, I heard my father telling his friends how smart and capable I was and that felt wonderful.

Spend as Much Time as Possible
A few years back and the phrase ‘quality time’ was coined, perhaps to make parents feel less guilty. The truth is that quality time is good and any time counts, too: In the car, at mealtime, raking the leaves or watching a movie together. It’s all added up and deposited in the memory banks no matter how small.

Be Human and Admit Mistakes
This is simple; if parent makes a mistake it should be admitted without haste and rectified if possible. Owning up to mistakes is also modeling for kids how to do it with grace. Not admitting mistakes and then trying to cover it up is to assume children are not very bright. Take my word for it – kids are savvier than most parents think. Mr. Ramirez was notorious for never admitting mistakes, then looking foolish while trying to shovel the blame onto someone else. He wanted all of us to think he was perfect but he never understood that accidentally leaving a light on, forgetting to close the gate or not locking the front door are not criminal offences – they are only human mistakes. For this evasive move it always became a “funny Dad story.”

Giving children the room to try new things is important for their healthy development.

Apologize and Mean It
When parents do something to offend or hurt their child then an immediate apology is in order and it should not be accompanied with an excuse. Mr. Ramirez again provides fodder for this family with a million laughs for his inability to get the entire word out of his mouth, “Sorrooo, sssorrooo, sssoorrrr!” You cannot make this stuff up, folks – he cannot say “I’m sorry” and mean it. Fortunately I and other people have given the example of apologies when needed.

Encourage Without Enabling
Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike for the first time? I do; my heart was racing and I was scared silly but I did it! What a glorious feeling; I could have climbed mountains that day. Encouraging children at all ages is a must. When parents enable children, though, they are telling children they have no faith in them to do things. Parents who do too many things for kids are depriving them from the wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Children learning and doing things for themselves is essential to their growth and development.

Parent Together
Parents who work as a team to bring up and discipline children are the most successful. When parents do not agree (or fight) on parenting issues and discipline methods cause unnecessary anxiety, confusion and stress in children. It can also place a long-term rift between the parents. When Mr. Ramirez insisted on verbally and physically abusing our children I had no choice but to defend the girls and then report him twice to child protective services. Parenting methods were negotiable, abuse was not.

Parenting can be mind-boggling to absorb how easy this is all at once so I will save Part II until next week. Relax Parents, it is just that simple.

Woman Thinking Courtesy of Ed Yourdon Under Flicker/CC License.
Smoking Mom Courtesy of Cynthia Chen Under Flicker/CC License.
Father & Son Hands Courtesy of Susan Sermoneta Under Flicker/CC License.
Father & Daughter Swing Courtesy of Tammra McCauley Under Flicker/CC License.
Girl Mom & Bike Courtesy of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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 How-To, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Halloween Resources


Halloween may be one of children’s favorite holidays of the year with parents and grandparents are not be far behind! Kids certainly enjoy carved Jack-O’-Lanterns with their eerie glow. In the links below you will find: History, crafts, decorating, educational, costumes, recipes, recipes for using leftover candy, pumpkin patters and instructions and more.

Cheap is good, free is better! It is always my endeavor to locate no-cost resources for parents but occasionally some websites will charge membership fees or subscription. Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their child’s online activities.

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Feed the children a snack before going so it will be easier to resist the temptation to eat treats before checking them out at home.

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Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted in Holiday, Parenting, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Weather Changes Affect Children’s Behavior


Fall weather can be unpredictable and changes in weather can alter children’s behavior.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | Updated September 10, 2014

Stormy, rainy weather increases the likelihood of arguments, crankiness and kids picking at each other.

When my girls were school-aged, the topic of weather and our children’s behavior came up in my Parents Anonymous group. The facilitator said, “Any time there is a weather change you can expect the kids’ behavior to change.” Several teachers and daycare professionals agree.

Weather to behavior— what can you expect?

Breezy or windy weather increases the activity levels of children.

Rain, thunder and lightning storms, cloudy and overcast: Kids tend to argue more, yell, pick at each other and fight. Kids become crankier, ill-tempered and are noisier. Kids can display chaotic, acting-out behaviors that are impulse-control related. Teachers and childcare professionals report that kids are louder than normal and there is a sense of gloom or depression to accompany the dark, dreary weather. Electricity in the air or thunder magnifies any of these behaviors.

Windy weather produces very energetic behavior: “It’s not that the children are ‘bad,’ it is just the increase in activity.” Kids run and jump more and may seem to have difficulty sitting still for very long.

During snowy weather children become excited, perhaps with the prospects of playing outdoors.

Snowfall creates excitement: Kids seem to go “haywire” and want to go outdoors. Pent up energy may sway the balance to drive children outdoors (Snow plus Kids equals Fun). Alternately you get ‘cabin fever’ with snow days and kids are stuck inside; children become irritable, listless and show similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors, typically during the winter.

There have been more than a few studies that shows a clear correlation between weather and behavior as far back as 1898 when Edwin G. Dexter studied kids in several Denver, Colorado schools. Using over 600 corporal punishment cases, he found the weather to be a key factor. In studies in 1977 and later, scientific data pointed to the drop in barometric pressure as the culprit.

Dr. Maria Simonson of Johns Hopkins noted that a falling barometer results in an atmosphere that pushes down on the body, constricting capillaries that causes a reduction of oxygen to the brain, possibly resulting in children’s behavior changes. Children’s brains are still developing and that may also play a part into the negative behaviors as well.

In 1898 Edwin G. Dexter studied children in Colorado and found corporal punishment to be an indicator of weather affecting behavior.

The atmosphere does not only affect children; a relative of mine was a deputy sheriff for many years and then took a position as magistrate for the county. He always dreaded the week of the full moon saying, “The jails will be full and the crazies come out of the woodwork.” There would be an increase in domestic violence, fights, shootings, public drunkenness, petty crime and yes— the jails would be packed to the brim.

Science shows increases in negative behaviors peak at two days prior to the full moon. Nursing homes and hospital emergency rooms also report an increase in activity and there is a peak in childbirth around the full moon events. The full moon affects the oceans’ tides so why not the bodily fluids?

My mother planned her garden with the Farmer’s Almanac and planted every year ‘by the light of the moon.’ Her crops grew satisfactorily, compared to our neighbors who planted without using her system. Mom’s harvests were quite bountiful and the evidence is insurmountable in favor of the moon, as far as she was concerned.

My mother, like many farmers of her day, planned and planted by the moon using the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Why is this news important for parents?

For some parents like me with short tempers, it helped to find a legitimate reason for a child’s negative behavior and the weather sounds more plausible than a child ‘pushing buttons’ or being ‘out to get me.’ It’s also better to blame it on something that we have absolutely no control over like the weather; blaming the weather instead of our children went a long way in cooling tempers.

My lawyer-wannabe children would have loved being armed with this information— scientific and anecdotal combined. While understanding the weather possibility made me a little more patient, I could not go around with a barometer strapped to my wrist. On those days when it seemed like everyone has lost their mind I’d look up at the sky and wonder.

What do you think; does the weather affect children’s behavior?

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Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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Social Media Poster: “Respect for Others”


Spanking and hitting can cause low self-esteem, unintentional injury and negative behavior outbursts.

Ranting is not something I regularly engage in but…

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 3, 2014

As many of you know, I volunteer for Parents Anonymous of New Jersey, a leader in the prevention of child abuse. If you have read many of my posts you will also know that I struggle with anger/rage issues. For me, the commitment to non-violence parenting was both heartfelt and life changing.

Fathers teach daughters what to expect in a relationship by how they treat their wives.

Last week, while eating lunch and killing time on social media, I ran across a post by a woman I knew as a well-educated and kind person. The post sent my anger through the roof in a flash, insinuating that she was proud to have learned “respect for others” through her parents spanking her.

My parents spanked me as a child. As a result I now suffer from a psychological condition known as “Respect for Others.”

In effect, the post encourages people to spank their children claiming it teaches respect for others. When I have seen this in the past there were many people who seem to agree and it saddened me. I could not let this pass without challenging her to re-think that post. Here is what I posted:

I never re-post these things encouraging hitting because some parents can start out spanking and are not able to stop. It is also possible to teach respect and manners without the use of violence; my girls are living proof. Think of this poster the next time you hear about a child that was beaten. I was a mom with anger/rage issues; if I got started I would not be able to stop.

Daughters often mirror the respect paid to them by their mothers.

After posting (venting) I felt somewhat relieved; I spoke respectfully using “I” messages to state another perspective. During the day as other people commented or ‘liked’ the woman’s post but I did not look until the end of the day. When I reviewed the comments I found something surprising; instead of people agreeing with the post, they had taken a similar stand against it. To me it reinforces the fact that when one person stands up, it gives others the courage to stand up for what is right too.

“Don’t believe in teaching respect with violence!”

“Absolutely disagree. 99% of the times I was hit, I did not deserve. I was also smacked as part of group punishment when they couldn’t figure out who was lying. Children are not worth less than adults and must be accorded the same rights. For being smacked (amongst other things) I’m now mostly estranged. Parents need better support and we all need better education of life matters in schools, not just the obsession with exams and grades. my respect for elders was severely damaged by my elders taking to violence to win an argument. They couldn’t win with reason so chose a totalitarian option.”

“Don’t agree with corporal punishment. There are better means of deterant and protection.”

“Surely you are aware that increase in rudeness disrespect and down right ignorant behaviour have no connection with discipline being made a criminal offence.”

“Agree.”

“Both parents being forced into full time work does not help. There used to be a term “latch key kids”. Now kids are supposed to be handed over to carers almost before they have gotten to know their parents and high pressure schooling to follow. No wonder there is a “generation gap”.”

They got it; they understood the point: Spanking is not noble and teaches nothing except that if you are bigger you can use violence to get your way. We tell kids to stand together against the bully and the same principle worked here: People do not have to go with the flow; one person can make a difference.

One of the beliefs of people: “I was spanked (whipped, hit) and I turned out alright.”

People love their parents (even abusive parents) and we make this up to rationalize the confused feelings that have become blurred over time thinking, “I love my mother and father so those spanking must have been good for me.”

Parental myth: “I only spank lightly with little taps.”

People who are frustrated or angry cannot judge correctly how lightly they are hitting. Emotions dull judgment so that they literally are not in their right minds. Knowing that, do you think it is acceptable to encourage someone like me to hit a child?

Family members who are respectful of each other live harmoniously without feeling the impulse to hit or spank.

And my favorite myth: “If I don’t spank my child they will be spoiled.”

‘Spoiled’ behavior comes from poor parenting skills and acting out as a result. Spanking is a parenting tool used by parents who do not know other, less violent options or choose spanking because of other myths.

As members of our larger community, that village that raises the child that was spoken of so often, I would challenge each of you to stand up and speak the truth about those social media posters. Tell them this:

“Spanking children does not teach respect for others; calm, non-violent discipline does.”

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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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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

Getting To School On Time


By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 27, 2014

The appearance of those big yellow buses triggers kids’ mad scrambles and parental moans across the country.

Seeing a big yellow school bus instantly reminds me of Chelsey and Katie’s experiences catching a ride; frantic searches for things to cram in their backpack and teeth half brushed after a leisurely breakfast. It was not always an easy issue for me and my fellow Parents Anonymous Group members would agree. We each took our turns on the “pity pot” to bemoan missed buses and trips to school with a tardy child. We each had different approaches and some worked better than others; here is what I did.

The All-Important Ownership

Alarm clocks are one of the first self-imposed limits set by my daughters.

Getting the girls each their own clock and teaching them how to use it was the first step. We calculated the time needed to eat breakfast, brush their teeth, comb their hair and then get dressed. Time adjustments would be made as needed; if there was too little time then we set the clock for them to get up a few minutes earlier.

Giving the kids a clock and the expectation to be ready and on time gave them ownership of the duty. “Good or bad, children will more often live up to your expectations of them.” ~Parents Anonymous Group Facilitator

The Lateness Rule

If lateness was the children’s fault, they paid for the trip to school; if the cause due to a power failure there would be no charge.

If my child missed the bus because of dawdling or not getting up when the clock alarm rings then I would take them to school and expect to be paid the going rate. When this rule began the charge was $5.00 and two years later it was raised to $10.00. If I was asked to drive something to school the charge would be the same. If the children missed the bus through no fault of their own (no electricity or other valid reason) then I took them with no charge.

Doing this teaches children to respect my time and to appreciate me for doing this for them. Long-range it taught the girls not to expect a free ride, in other words, to become responsible and expect consequences in life.

Follow Through

Setting a rule is easy but following through takes conviction and stamina. In other words, you have to mean it and stick to what you said. If parents do not follow through then they are making their lives more difficult for a long time.

Children, as sweet as they are, will sniff out a weakness and exploit it to the best of their ability every time. After giving the rule, if you ever give in and do not follow through, you will be ensuring that all other rules will now be in jeopardy as well. Only after careful consideration should a parent give in and break their rules.

Daily Plan and Launchpad

Teach children to review each day the night before. Having a weekly or monthly calendar posted above their work area or beside their doorway can help kids begin to take ownership of preparation for the next school day. Before children go to bed have them pack their backpack with everything they will need (books, homework and money) and then put it on their morning Launchpad (bench, chair, or other designated space) to grab going out the door. The goal is to make mornings go as smoothly as possible so kids are not late and do not forget things.

Having a designated space for filled backpacks and other school needs saves time during the morning rush.

Put children in charge of their schedule and preparation for daily activities as much as possible when age appropriate. If parents see that a child is truly struggling then it is time to review abilities with regard to responsibility. Reassure children that the time will come when they will be able to manage those responsibilities.

School Is A Must

Occasionally parents will be asked by kids if they can stay home to finish a project or because they are tired. This is a state law, unless kids are truly sick, they must go to school. (It’s nice to blame a painful rule on someone else.)

There is no discussion here; kids go to school or to the doctor for a diagnosis or a note. Call the physician first to get their instructions. Fevers mean an illness is contagious and kids must stay home. It is possible to diagnose the most recent illness in the area by symptoms.

Volunteering Was Iron Clad

Chelsey and Katie understood that I volunteered for 4-hour periods of time on the Helpline and that if I was on duty then I could not leave the phone unattended. In a dire emergency I would need to get another volunteer to fill in which would mean disrupting another person’s schedule.

Imposing responsibility on children may seem heartless at first but pays off big time in the long haul.

The girls came to understand not only their needs, but the needs of others. To me this was an important lesson for them that propelled them to look at the big picture. The book report might be needed but it would wait till I completed my shift.

Get out the violins… I walked to and from school every day, rain or shine. I walked home soaked to the skin and my mother sat at home with a car in the driveway. In moments of weakness I would remember this and reconsider. Thinking of the message relenting would send to Chelsey and Katie, I remained strong.

Do your children miss the bus? What would the going rate be in your area?

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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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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, Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Support Group Wisdom


By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 20, 2014

This child will not throw a tantrum at his prom – it absolutely will not happen.

The Parents Anonymous Group was a wealth of information; I wonder how I could ever have managed without it and the members. Here are a few quick tips that I learned in group that helped me many times:

Nothing lasts forever.

Change is inevitable… except when you have a toddler that throws tantrums and every tantrum seems to last forever.

Many members in my group went through tough situations; the operative word is through. There is a transformation in which parents get from one difficult event and moved into another, hopefully, less stressful time.

Here are a few situations that parents will (probably) get through with kids:

• Not wanting to bathe
• Throwing food
• Enjoying bodily functions like farting, picking noses and eating boogers
• Not liking the opposite sex
• Not liking siblings
• Refusing to go to school
• Eating the same food at every meal
• Saying “I hate you”
• Watching the same movie over and over

You get the message. It may not be easy and, in fact, some things can be very upsetting but nothing is forever. Chelsey once forgot how to eat and breathe at the same time and our mealtimes became chaotic for a short time.

The key for parents is this: You will not be dealing with this at prom time. Have you ever seen a 17-year-old pitching a fit getting into the limo (or the family car)? Situations will change. It may get easier or harder but it will not stay the same.

Mothers and fathers think differently.

This is how fathers get into trouble: Mothers relate to their male partners about her concerns about their child while fathers listen intently (or pretend to). The mother pauses.

Fathers are fixers but sometimes there is nothing to fix and mothers share information whether it is needed or not.

Dad says to her, “So what do you want me to do?”

Mom frowns and responds, “You were not listening!”

We look at things differently. Fathers are fixers; they listen for directions or to see what the mothers want them to do. Mothers tell the dads about situations or something she has noticed with their child and she may only want to share information.

Smiling, mom says, “Robbie picked up the paper that Jill dropped and ran to return it to her.”

Mom looks at Robbie’s father and he instantly thinks he missed something (or was not listening).

Puzzled, dad says, “Yeah, so Robbie took it to her, what do you want me to do?”

There is nothing that needs to be done, nothing to be fixed. Mom noticed that their son is growing up and showing empathy; she is sharing information. When mothers (and fathers) understand this we get along much better.

Remember that the dads are the fixers and that there are times, though, when something just needs to be fixed.

You always have choices.

We cannot choose our genes but most things in life we can; thinking we have no choice causes unneeded stress.

We cannot choose our parents, our eye color or the weather but we can make choices most everything else.

When children are young we give them choices to calm and empower them. Guess what? As adults we still have choices even though we often tell ourselves that we ‘must’ do this or ‘have to’ do something else. Pressure and anxiety come from believing we have no choices or that we are boxed in.

With choices come consequences or results of our choices; weighing consequences can help us decide which choice is best. Thinking about choices and perhaps jotting them down on paper can help erase ‘musts’ and put the power to weigh our options back into our hands.

Don’t hold on to those tips, share them with others!

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Joel Kramer Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Ed Yourdon Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of victoriabernal 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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 Communication, Parenting, Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Anger Uses Time, Energy and Thought


By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 13, 2014

Your angry emotions are speaking when you scream, “You are grounded for a month!”

Shopping for a vehicle when you are in a hurry is risky business. Driving 65 mph in a school zone is tempting fate. Pushing firefighters aside to run into a burning building is just plain folly. Then why would anyone discipline a child when upset, angry or in a hurry?

“Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.” ~Robert Green Ingersoll

Calming yourself down when you are angry may not be easy but is necessary for your health and for those who are close to you. When parents discipline children while angry the resulting punishment will probably be much harsher than needed. Harsh punishment often fails to teach the needed lesson and is therefore ineffective. Excessively harsh discipline can cause children to rebel, thus undermining any teaching goal.

“No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.” ~George Jean Nathan

• Counting. Count up to 100 by twos, then threes if needed.
• Step outdoors. In winter a chilly blast may just be the answer. Take a brisk walk. Walk or jog the perimeter of your property, apartment complex or around the block.
• Pound nails. Don’t announce that you are taking a walk because you are angry, just go. Walk to your tool shed and pound a few nails into a piece of scrap wood then remove them from the wood next time.
• Go up or down stairs. Something is always headed up or down; take laundry to the basement or carry supplies upstairs. The exertion causes increased breathing: inhale… exhale… repeat.

“Anger is one letter short of danger.” ~Author Unknown

You can always apologize and say you were angry but you can never take back those hurtful words.

• Bounce a ball. Tossing a ball from hand to hand or just squeezing is good exercise.
• Breathe deeply. Inhale to the count of two; exhale to the count of four. Doing this increases the exchange of gasses in your lungs and the focus may help cool anger.
• Repot a plant. Spending a few minutes upgrading a favorite plant can be beneficial. Watch for garage and clearance sales for larger pots.
• Try yoga. Go to YouTube and yoga your heart out! Yoga is relaxing and can be tailored to novices, beginners or experts.

“Sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.” ~Author Unknown

• Write it out. Scribble your feelings in a journal, see if a pattern emerges. Start a free blog and write about your experiences.
• Just vent. Make a call to a toll-free helpline and empty your gut for ten minutes.
• Read aloud. The Declaration of Independence, the Bible or even a dictionary can help change your focus until rational thinking returns.
• Drink water. Guzzling eight ounces of water may give you the time you need to take a step back from the situation and calm down.

“Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them.” ~Lemony Snicket

Even after a parent loses control, kids still look for acceptance because they only want to please parents.

• Drown it out. Plug into earphones and listen to a portable radio or music.
• Reach for the stars. Simple stretching can loosen tense muscles and enable better breathing.
• Increase distance. Move in a direction away from the source of your anger.
• Palms down. Stand by a sturdy table and press your hands flat; move the fingers apart, then together, repeat.
• Go nowhere. Sit in your vehicle with the motor off and listen to the radio, recorded book or even yell.

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems— not people; to focus your energies on answers— not excuses.” ~William Arthur Ward

• Identify the problem. Problems have a way of popping up time and again but identifying the actual problem is the first step to finding a solution.
• Troubleshoot to solve. Once identified, list possible solutions or compromises.
• Name your feelings. Label your feeling to clarify.
• Use “I” messages. Have your say in a respectful manner.

“Anger in itself is not a bad emotion it’s what you do with it that counts.” ~Tinker

• Listen to others. First seek to understand, and then to be understood: Ask questions and repeat what you are hearing.
• Note anger triggers. Find the spark and head off the next episode by putting a plan in place while you are calm.
• Look for help. There are many options out there for professional help: therapy, counseling, anger management or clergy. Like Parents Anonymous says, “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”

“Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” ~Lyman Abbott

Repetitive outburst of anger over time can result in rebellion and mental health issues in children.

Before I had a handle on my anger there were times when I slammed doors or kicked and threw things but none of those actions ever solved any of the problems that created the episodes. I learned that my anger/rage had many sources: My husband listening to talk radio, things I forgot, letting people take advantage of me and so on. My husband had a love affair with talk radio and would come home mad as a bear and we would end up in a fight over something that had nothing to do with either of us. In time I was able to get him to see how talk radio was the problem. I also learned to change the way I responded to others to prevent blowups before they occurred. In each instance it was a matter of identifying the problem and devising a fix, one problem at a time.

Anger uses up an enormous amount of energy and there are other more enjoyable things I would rather spend my time doing. Other than be angry, what would you rather do?

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Melissa Segal Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Andy Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Lotus Carroll Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Leo Hidalgo 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Communication Tips For Parents


How do you talk with your children; have you ever just sat down and thought about it?

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | August 6, 2014

Meaningful conversations with teens actually start when they are much younger – but it is never too late to begin.

If you take a walk through the neighborhood – a store, school, school and so on – and observe how other people talk with their children you can probably pick out areas in which you could make improvements for yourself. You may see parents in a hurry, rolling their eyes, refusing to buy something, ignoring kids or maybe even getting physical with their child.

Children understand the difference between ‘talking at’ and ‘talking with’ very early.

Talking to our children becomes more of a habit than we realize unless we change the talk patterns. Here are a few quick tips for communicating better with children:

  • When your child speaks to you, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and listen. Stopping what you are doing shows respect, that you are ready to listen and what they say is important to you. Hearing, what someone says is improved by looking at the person as they speak. To test this out, have your child go in another room where they can hear but not see you. Give them instructions to write down on making a perfect boiled egg and then a deviled egg sandwich. Now read what they jotted down and see how closely the instructions match.
  • Talk with children, not at them. Conversation where ideas are exchanged rather than one-sided instructions or demands, are more conducive to cooperation and understanding. Talking at kids does not encourage conversation. Engaging their attention by asking questions can help and teaches children to do likewise.
  • Children know when adults treat them as invisible beings; when children are invisible they do not build a connection. If you speak to an adult and their child is nearby then speak to them in a normal voice, even if only to say ‘hello.’ They will feel valued and the experience becomes part of learning social graces and good manners.
  • Listen and talk with purpose. Rather than a robotic approach, listen actively when children speak: Ask questions to make sure you understand and then repeat back what you believe they are saying. When you give children important information or instructions have them repeat back to you what they understand. Doing this when needed can save many mistakes or hurt feelings.

Learning to listen with purpose is as important for parents as children.

By practicing these tips anyone can improve communications with children and as any parent knows, communication becomes more important with each passing year. It’s never too late so start today and build on the conversation style you wish to have for the future. It really is that simple.

My own communication epiphany came several years ago while I was attending Parents Anonymous. I thought my daughter Chelsey was causing the undue stress and aggravation. Read what I did and the surprising outcome below:

Children Being Bad: Caught On Tape!

What changes would you like to see in conversations with your child?

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Ed Yourdon Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Shana Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Nongbri Family Pix 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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 Communication, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year


Rosh Hashanah or “Head of the Year” is a two-day long holiday beginning on 1 Tishrei, the first day of the Jewish year. Resources for Rosh Hashanah are in alphabetical order according to the resource titles and then source. To view more information about each link simply hover your cursor over the link.

Cheap is good, free is better! It is my endeavor to locate no-cost resources for parents but occasionally some websites will charge some type of membership fees or subscription. Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their child’s online activities.

NOTE: A special “Thank You” to Caryn R. for her invaluable assistance. ❤

Elul and Rosh Hashanah

High Holiday Resources

High Holiday Resources

Holiday: Rosh HaShana/New Years

Jewish Activities

Jewish Craft: Rosh Hashanah

Jewish Preschool

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah Crafts

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah Crafts

Rosh Hashanah Crafts

Rosh Hashanah Crafts for Kids: Ideas for Arts and Crafts

Rosh Hashanah Fun

Rosh HaShana: History & Overview

Rosh Hashana in United States

Rosh Hashanah Is Here!

Rosh Hashanah is Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah Songs And Dances

The Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah

What Is Rosh HaShanah?

What Is Rosh HaShanah?

What is Rosh Hashanah?

RECIPES

27 Sweetest Treats For Rosh Hashanah

50+ Rosh Hashanah Recipes

An International Menu for Rosh Hashanah

Apples & Honey Recipes for Rosh Hashanah

Find Rosh Hashanah Recipes for a New Year Meal

Our Best Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Recipes: Find something tasty to make

Recipes for Rosh Hashanah

Recipes for Rosh Hashanah Menu

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah – Sharing Hopes for a Sweet Year

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh Hashanah Challah Recipe and Braiding Tips–from a Shiksa!

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah Recipes and Menus

Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Recipes

The High Holidays

The Sweet Foods of the High Holy Days

Vegan Jewish New Year Recipes – Vegetarian-friendly!

What is Rosh Hashanah?

What’s Cooking: Rosh Hashanah

VIDEOS

Ari Lesser – Rosh Hashanah – 5774

A Rosh Hashana Song from Latma

Because It’s Rosh Hashanah! A Musical Video Greeting

“B’Rosh HaShanah” Cantor Angela Buchdahl, 2013

Call Me Maybe-Chana Tova

Come Together and Rock Hashanah! (A Rosh Hashanah Resolutions Song)

Dip Your Apple – Fountainheads Rosh Hashanah

Get Clarity: Aish.com’s Rosh Hashanah Music Video

How to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

I Gotta’ Love You Rosh Hashanah

Jumpin’ Jerusalem! Rosh Hashana Video for Kids

Rosh Hashanah 2011 Blowing The Shofar

Rosh Hashanah and Ten Days of Awe

Rosh Hashanah Greetings 2011/5772

Rosh Hashanah Message (5774): An Invitation to Prayer

Rosh Hashana / My Sharona

Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem

Rosh Hashanah: Science vs Religion

Shalom Sesame: Kids Talk About Rosh Hashanah

Shalom Sesame: Rosh Hashanah Hannah

Shana Tova

Shana Tova

Shofar Callin’: The Rosh Hashanah song for the Jewish New Year

Sights & Sounds In Uman – Rosh Hashanah 5754

Six13 – Shana Tova (2013 Rosh Hashanah Jam)

Soul Bigger (The Rosh Hashana Song)

The Last Trumpet Is Not On Rosh Hashanah – Chris White

Todd & God: Rosh Hashanah (Ep 2) – My Jewish Learning

What Makes Rosh Hashanah Beautiful

What Rosh Hashanah Means: Israelis in Jerusalem explain the Jewish New Year Holiday

NOTE: If you find a broken link or have a resource to share with other parents please use the contact page.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Ari Hahn Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Joshua Bousel Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Joshua Bousel Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Elias Punch Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Edsel Little Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Joshua Bousel Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Joshua Bousel Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Elana Amsterdam Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Edsel Little Under Flicker/CC License.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of SchustermanFoun under YouTube 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
Website: PA-OF-NJ.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

Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts

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

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 Holiday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment