Let's Talk Parenting

Parenting and Decision Making

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

I’m hoping that today’s blog becomes more of a conversation. I am genuinely so curious about how other parents make decisions for their house and whether they include their kids. So the whole premise of this is some social media posts – because where else do we argue nowadays – about the difference between millennial parents and boomer parents. I also think that your culture has to come into play here, so while the video was funny, it was based on a white societal normative style of parenting. So I’m going to write this based on my experiences, and if we haven’t met yet IRL or digitally, I come from a black household; so there are definitely going to be differences here. That is actually what I’m banking on.

My Experience with My Role

Okay, so when I was growing up, the line between parents and children was thick, bold as hell, there was no mistaking who was in charge, and even if you were going to be negatively affected by a decision, you didn’t get to have a say. That just is what it was; and when you don’t know differently, it doesn’t really bug you. As I grew up and got into other people’s families and saw some differences, I started to wonder what it might be like to be a more active participant in the way the house works. Overall, I had a good childhood; this isn’t a critique on that. However, it is an exploration of what my world would look like now if we were consulted on things. I do firmly believe that the ultimate decision has to be with the person whose brain is (hopefully) the most developed in the room. But what if?

What I Do Now

I wouldn’t say that my daughter and I are equals by any means, but as a single parent, she is my ace boon, my ride or die. It’s #teamus. So when I go to make decisions like dinner, weekend plans, chore lists, vacation options, etc., I am more likely to consult with my kid than I perceive I was consulted. I find myself asking questions like, ‘Hey would it be fun to go see Grandpa this year?’ or ‘It’s a home day; what do you feel like doing?’ My kid also has a general sense of what we can and cannot afford to do. So sometimes she’ll say I really want to go to Jumptime, and I can say, ‘Oh, I can’t really afford that this weekend but what about next?’ And we may still have to go and do some things she didn’t want to do, but at least she got to make her feelings known. And honestly, it makes those experiences less of a nightmare when I already know she isn’t feeling it, and I can explain, well this is why we have to do it. Now I’m not saying that I don’t still make choices that she didn’t agree with, but I am saying that she knows what’s happening, and has a chance to be vocal about it.

Now here is where you come in. I have also been very open with her about wanting a new house – we are on the same page – and wanting to foster some kids. And we have those dialogues (as much as a five year old can).

What decisions do your kids get a say in? Do you include them at all? Why or why not?

And let’s use designate this as a judgement – and shade throwing – free zone.

Education Parenting

Why I Chose a Charter School

I’d like to think I’m the kind of parent who thinks ahead. In reality I’m the kind of parent who sort of thinks ahead when I have to, and mostly just waits until the last second. One area in which I made it a priority to really think ahead was education. Living in Idaho has so many positives in the good stuff column – but K-12 education isn’t one of them. Or at least it wasn’t. Education is a sore spot for a lot of us, and I get it – this is what is supposed to set your child up for success. I decided to start my kid at a charter – and in all transparency, I am a founding Board Member for said school – and I want to talk about why.

My Own Experiences.

I went to school here. Elementary, Junior High, and High School. Not once in that time did I have a teacher of color. Not once in that time did I see myself reflected in the curriculum beyond the slave trade and the civil rights movement. Not one time did I see the positives of my culture, or really any other culture presented to me at school. When I got to high school there was this program in conjunction with Trio and Boise State University that happened once a year. It’s aim, if I remember right, was to help minority students understand the college process, and see how cool it was, and what doors could open for you. My friends and I took it as a time to be ourselves, to see ourselves reflected in the college students, and to be just with each other. Because of these experiences, I spent a long time thinking about how I would make sure that my child knew how great it was to be Black, how amazing and diverse and resilient our history was, and how many different options there were for her future. So naturally I had my ears to the ground on what state I needed to go to for that to happen. Yeah you guys – I was gonna move.

A Side Note.

There is so much misinformation about charter schools in the world. A charter school is a public school. Similar to a public school, the funding is based on attendance and student enrollment. When students move to a charter – they aren’t ‘draining resources from their home school’ because guaranteed the home school was able to accept a student to take their place. There are TONS of kids (here at least) coming into the district or needing to change schools due to services etc. Also – you don’t pay extra for a charter. Teachers aren’t kidnapped and dragged to teach at a charter. They may or may not get paid more – that’s based on what school they are at. For example, we all know that the BSD pays better than other districts – so many factors none of which apply to charters necessarily. Charters are not just for rich kids. Or white kids. Charters – just like every other school is supposed to – adhere to state and federal academic standards. Rant over.

A light in the darkness.

There is nothing wrong with the schools here for the most part. They just aren’t reflective of how I imagined my kid experiencing schools. In a story that could be it’s own post, I met two wonderful people who dreamed of opening a school where all kids could thrive, where all kids could be exposed to identity development, and have all of their identities celebrated. In a time where the Treasure Valley is diversifying beyond what anyone expected – and joyfully so – this was like a little miracle sent just for us. Not only where they excited to show kids of color, and other kids too, all of the joys of learning but they were also set to do so through a STEM focused lens. What could be better than that?


So fast forward to this year – the second year the school is open and her first year there. We learn all of the necessary things like the parts of a book, how to be a kind friend, and the foundations of math. We also have computer science and movement three times a week. We are a part of a school culture that welcomes wonder, celebrates joyfully, encourages conversation, and incorporates community into all that we do. I’m very excited to see my little brown girl thrive in her educational pursuits, and have opportunities that I didn’t; and isn’t that what we all want?

Kid Safety Raising Healthy Kids Sponsored Content

Why Should You Care about Internet Privacy?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

This content was provided by our partner, TechWarn and I am being compensated in the form of a VPN subscription to protect my family.

Why should you care about internet privacy?

Even as parents, we rarely pay attention to the ‘terms and conditions’ before logging into an app for the first time, how could we expect our children to practice digital privacy? But practice they must.

Today we live in a world of zero privacy. Social media behemoths take advantage of our innate desire to connect, turning platforms into mega data centers to ruthlessly monetizing our personal lives. Sadly, they don’t seem to be particularly cautious with our sensitive information either, as a security breach late last year reported a hack affecting nearly 30 million users.

If your children are on social media or are regular internet users, understand the risks involved to help them steer clear of privacy breaches and their accompanying risks.

Your privacy is always at stake

The devil is always in the details. Buried deep inside the service terms are often invasive clauses claiming to collect, access, stored and analyze your data ‘for an improved experience’. Opting to keep private info private, and you will be forced to quit the app or leave the platform, leaving you with no choice but to oblige.

What’s rather unfortunate is the fact that we do not have any control over what the companies choose to do with the data they access. There have been numerous cases of accounts hacking, impersonation and other cyber-crimes. Even with these happenings, we keep signing in into mobile phone applications, programs and software, and subscribing to websites without giving much care to the security concerns.

Your data is sold, but you won’t get a penny for it

As the old saying goes, free things are expensive. The paradox in this statement continues being evidenced in the online platforms that claim to be ‘free’ but end up making billions of money by selling out your personal data to advertisers. It’s how Facebook and Twitter make money anyway. How else do you think that you have your timeline hit with adverts of items, products, or services you recently discussed?

Each time you log in to the ever-emerging web platforms, you are providing them with your information and to advertisers; this is a badly needed necessity. The only way to limit how much information and private data these services will be getting from you is by checking your internet privacy.

Technology evolution leads us to be more reliant on the internet

Just like the internet, IT gadgets are going through a major evolution. Newer and sophisticated gadgets are released on a regular basis. Communication is taking a shift, you do not necessarily need to load your mobile phone with airtime; with an internet connection, you are able to make a call online.

Think of the host of websites that allow you stream sports, music and more. We are slowly but steadily bidding goodbye to the old-fashioned computerized gadgets and embracing highly advanced ones.

Smooth operations of these devices require an internet connection. For instance, smartphones require regular software updates. With this level of reliance on the internet, it is important that one puts up reliable privacy protection measures in place.

If stolen, your current private data could haunt your future

Some people rubbish the need to have internet privacy measures in place, claiming they have got nothing to hide. Which is okay; but this may not last for long. When companies access your data (let’s say private and confidential information like call logs or messages content), you have no control over what they might choose to do with them.

Without huge aspirations at the moment, this may not seem much of a concern. But if someone wishes to bring you down in the future, they can use skeletons from your private data that was stored by some company 5 or 10 years ago. Past conversations exposed are on record for bringing down marriages, tainting people’s integrity among other damages. Many internet activities define your private life, browse safely lest the information falls on the wrong hands and ends up being used against you.

The law will not protect you

Due to the rising cases of cyber-related crimes, some countries are developing and enforcing laws in support of internet surveillance. While this might be a good effort and may help trace the criminals bullying people online, it is not right for your privacy.

When a government gains access to your communication threads, the sites you are visiting, the people you are networking with and such information without your approval, then it’s interfering with your personal privacy. Unfortunately, many countries continue embracing this trend, especially on visitors and tourists.

You may not have direct control over what the lawmakers of a certain nation think. Fortunately, there are different avenues through which you can shield your internet privacy.

Fraudsters, hackers, and cybercriminals are upping their game

There are many techniques that fraudsters can use to access or gather your online information. Your internet service provider may not warn you of the possible dangers after all high-speed connections are what most of us are concerned about.

If your privacy settings are not customized to limit who can access information about you, fraudsters can easily tell who you are by monitoring your activities on these sites. This is especially so with social interaction sites where we like to upload our photos, update our activities and so on. Others use malicious software known as spyware. The software is able to track and hack your personal information without your knowledge. The developers of such malicious software target unsuspecting internet users and thus the need to care about your privacy whenever you are on the internet.

Ways to protect your internet privacy

The ways through which your private data can be tracked or accessed are multiplying by the day. Here are ways through which you can protect your personal data while on the internet.

Keep your software updated

Doing this can greatly reduce unauthorized access to your data. Keeping your software updated makes sure your system is shielded from even the most recent malware.

Update your privacy settings

This is necessary especially when it comes to social networking platforms. By default, most of the information you upload or post will be shared publicly. Consider changing your settings to limit views to only fewer people or to only share with people you know. To achieve higher efficiency, it’s advisable to ask your friends to do the same.

Block 3rd party cookies

Accepting cookies allows websites to maintain track of you. For instance, they can be able to tell the last time you visited. Others will be able to store your data and even sign you in automatically during your next visit. Blocking cookies limits access should anyone else access your device without your knowledge.

Clear browser history and delete cookies regularly

This helps log you out of all accounts that you may have signed in on the browser.

Get a VPN app

A virtual private network encrypts all the data you receive or send via the internet. With this encryption, third parties cannot access data and even if they do, they cannot be able to use it or trace it back to you.

Privacy and security are well worth your time and money. VPN deals are just a Google search away so there’s no excuse of not going playing your part to safeguard your data. With a VPN in place, your data will always be protected whenever you are using the internet.

Kid Safety Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

Raising Drug-Free Kids

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I started to write this by saying “the conversation you have with your kids about drugs is one of the most difficult and most important you’ll ever have.”

That’s inaccurate.

To really have an impact on your kids about drugs, it can’t be a single conversation. It has to be multiple conversations over a period of years. And it can’t just be conversations about not doing drugs. It needs to be a consistent parenting effort in which you help your children understand their power to make choices and their responsibility to accept the consequences of their choices – and to be able to make the connection between the two. And it also requires raising your kids in a way that they know they’re loved and valued as individuals, that they’re given a voice, and that you are the safe people in their lives. And you can do all that and they still may end up experimenting with drugs or becoming addicts, because no matter how great we are as parents, our kids have other influences in their lives – friends, school, other adults, other family, etc.

Which is why your best effort in keeping your kids drug free starts when they are just toddlers and younger. It’s when your children are in the infant and toddler stage that you set boundaries and teach kids about making good choices; it’s at this young age that you have the most influence and opportunity for impact.

Here are 4 things you can do to help keep your kids on a drug-free path:

Communicate – All the Time

Talk, and talk often. If you keep the lines of communication open, then discussing drugs can be an ongoing effort. Learn how to talk to your children but more importantly, learn how to listen to your children. Serious discussions take place over time and work best when built upon a foundation of mutual trust.

Show Affection and Respect

Show affection for your kids, openly and unabashedly. Tell them you love them, every day. Praise them for who they are, not just things they do. This is important when your kids are young and building self-esteem; it becomes even more important as they get older and become teenagers. Teens are competing for the approval of their peers; it helps a lot when they know they already have the approval of their parents. If your child does not feel accepted or loved by you, they may seek that approval elsewhere from peers who might be doing drugs or using alcohol.

Don’t Be Naive

Know that no matter how “good” your child is or how great their grades are, they will have access to and exposure to drugs – at school, in the community, at the homes of friends. You cannot isolate your kids from drugs, so you have to make them strong enough and secure enough to be ok saying no. Children crave boundaries and rules so that they feel safe. Even when they are testing you at every point, they’re really just making sure you’re still going to enforce the rules and protect them. Be clear with them that doing drugs is not acceptable, and that there will be consequences.

Give them an Out

Help your kids get out of sticky moments. When I was a teenager, my mom always told me if something was happening that I didn’t know how to handle, to call her and ask her to pick me up and to tell her I had a headache. We’ve told our kids the same – feign being sick if you can’t just say no; call us, no questions asked if you need to get out of someplace.

Worried your child might be taking drugs? Be alert to changes in your child’s behavior, including any changes in appetite, a decline in grades, or feelings of apathy. Drug use may cause your child to become more withdrawn, less inclined to engage in family activities, and more likely to be overly sensitive. If your child does need professional help with overcoming a drug problem, contact a rehab center where they can help your child or teen work through and overcome a drug problem. For more information about keeping kids drug free, we recommend the following resources:

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids


Have a resource you’d like to see on this list? Let us know!

Making Memories Parenting Raising Healthy Kids Toddlers

Turn Off the TV and Spend Time with Your Toddler

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

When our daughter, Anika, was three, we took her out of daycare so that I could have some time with her and her brother over the summer before going back to work (I was headed back to the corporate world that fall). They spent the summer home with me.  I’ve never been so challenged to come up with creative activities to keep children busy.  Anika had been going to daycare for two years while I was in school, so she was all about “centers” and “jungle bus” and did NOT like to be bored (at 16, she still doesn’t). Parker had just finished first grade and was used to his days being filled with learning and recess (he still can’t stand days when there’s nothing going on). Their brother Kyle was going to a dayhab program, but their sister, Kira (who was going into her junior year in high school), was often around when she wasn’t working or at cheer practice.

Since it was nice weather, we did try to spend a lot of time outside, but in Boise, where we were living at the time, has a high number of days where the temperature is above 90 degrees and the ultra violet rays are at their highest risk.  Indoor activities become a necessity! I was extremely grateful for Nickelodeon –Dora, Diego, Lazy Town—they certainly made my kids happy.  But since this was to be my last summer off with the kids before taking the long-hour corporate job (who knew how things would work out), I made extra efforts not to rely on the TV.

We baked cookies every Friday.  The kids did all the measuring and mixing, and Parker was able to use his math skills when we doubled the recipes. We used water paints and practiced mixing colors to see what new colors we could make.  The brushes were quickly abandoned in favor of fingers and I ended up with some wonderful artwork on my fridge from my little ones’ fingers.  The summer went too fast, really, but we came up with some great ideas for spending time creating memories together:

  • Making tents out of sheets and having a picnic
  • Popcorn and movie days
  • Dress-up. Parker and Anika acted out scenes from favorite shows and movies, and then made up some of their own stories.
  • Art time.
  • Blocks. All of the kids have loved playing with blocks, either the wooden kind or the extra large not-legos.
  • Mommy’s helper. Yes, this is how the housework got done and the laundry got folded.

Now, Kira is the one home with young children. Her daughter, Hallie, is two-and-a-half, and until her baby brother was born, got to leave the house every day to go to a play center here in town. Now, she’s stuck at home and often has to find ways to entertain herself a bit when mom is working. This means getting to watch her favorite movie, Frozen, every morning…but Kira tries to spend quality time with her kids, just like I did with Parker and Anika.

Hallie has access to a lot of things her aunt and uncle did not, like electronic educational games (there are a ton on my Kindle that she knows how to use). Hallie also likes to take photos with her mother’s phone and spends quite a bit of time on FaceTime with her grandparents in England.

There are so many delightful ways to spend time with your little ones when they are little. I’m envious of Kira in a way that she is in this stage – it ends far too quickly. I hope she enjoys every moment of it, and when she’s not, this nana is more than happy to relive some memories by spending time with her granddaughter.


College Isn’t Right for Everyone

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

College isn’t right for everyone. Sometimes it isn’t right because it’s the wrong college, but sometimes it’s the structure, the cost, or the ridiculous number of pointless classes you have to take to pad the tuition fees that make it unworthy. Yet college is part of the stereotypical rite of passage. Kids start being asked what they want to be when they grow up in kindergarten and start taking career assessments in middle school. By the time a student has graduated from high school, they’ve been inundated with college speeches, college prep classes, and a clear expectation that college is the only path forward. Graduate from high school, move out, go to college, get a job. Just like every other hamster on a wheel, you’re expected enter the workforce and pay bills, brain-washed to believe that you’re living the American dream.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there can be value in college. Dave and I both have degrees that have proven to be valuable, and I never grow tired of learning. I even think about going back to get my PhD someday. However, college isn’t right for everyone – and it’s definitely not always the right choice right out of high school! Although I have a degree now, it took me several years of my adult life to get there. When I graduated high school, it didn’t take me long to realize that college life was not something I was ready for. I dropped after one semester. Over the next several years, I would return to college, maybe make it through one semester, then drop out, sometimes mid-semester. What did I accomplish? Not much. At 34, I finally was ready to go to school, really embrace the experience, and learn.

Now, my son is at a similar crossroads. He graduated high school. He enrolled in college. He moved in to the dorms. It was not the right fit – that was clear after only one weekend. College isn’t right for him. Not right now. College was not, and never is, the package high school sold him. It wasn’t an open plain of adventure and opportunity, but instead proved to be a just different box that he was expected to conform to. Parker quickly discovered that the college life was everything about high school that he never liked, simply with new rules and without the security of home. He described it as high school with a prison setting (truly, the dorms have an austere look to them).

Our kids are not being taught to be individuals, and I’m raising individuals.

Rather than remain miserable in a college dorm, Parker was honest with us. The dorm life was not for him, and he couldn’t promise himself that the coursework would be worth his time or money. It’s a fair question, especially when thousands of students are drowning in student loans with little to show for their degrees. We’ve asked ourselves that same question many times before, as the student loan bills keep piling higher.

After only a weekend of orientation activities, which were more rules and regulations than ice breakers and welcome parties, Parker was not the first of his suitemates to leave. One of his suitemates realized almost as soon as he moved in that what he had been sold was not what had been delivered. This would-be student had packed up and left after one night. Parker left the next day. Rather than regret at leaving campus, all Parker felt was relief. He truly believes he dodged a bullet, and to be honest, we feel the same. The school was helpful in cancelling his dorm assignment and withdrawing him in time to avoid costs; we returned the books he had purchased, and lost nothing more than a dorm deposit. It was an inexpensive life lesson worth the money.

The traditional college path is not for everyone.

Even when I returned to college, I was as non-traditional as you could get: I lived off-campus when 90% of the other students lived on-campus. I was a mother of 5 and a homeowner, while all of my classmates were 20 and single. I only spent two years there, having transferred every credit possible in from the other universities I’d attended and taking 20-22 credits a semester.

There are many paths to success

By convincing our kids that college is the only way is limiting their capacity for a fulfilling life. College isn’t the right choice every time. There are still many trade jobs desperate for skilled workers, yet high schools that offer trade programs are rare, and the programs themselves are limited. Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they achieved success without stepping foot into a college classroom, but they aren’t the ones invited to high school events to speak and inspire. And there is so much free education available online that you can learn almost anything you want to know without paying for it, but no one is going to tell you that.

My son did not fail. He tried something new, realized it wasn’t the right path, advocated for himself, and ;earned a ton about himself. Now he’s regrouping, and we are more than happy to help support him as he finds his way.

College isn’t right for everyone.

Your child doesn’t have to fit in the pre-established box. Success comes in many packages. Let your child write their own story.


Adult Children Parenting Teens and Tweens

Letting Your Kids Fail is Good Parenting

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Letting your kids fail is good parenting. There are risks in every decision. As moms, we encourage our children to try and try again, but sometimes it’s easy to skim over what failing teaches us. Sometimes it’s not as simple as getting back on that bike until you can successfully ride it. There are life decisions, especially as children get older, that are much more complicated. Try and try again doesn’t pertain to every scenario and believing that success must come after failure can be really harmful.

Failure is not as negative as it’s portrayed.

We’re often taught to believe that failing is disastrous, but letting your kids fail teaches them so much. Our inability to accomplish something doesn’t mean that we’ve either made a mistake somewhere or that something is inherently wrong with who we are. Failing is a critical experience, and it’s a strong guiding force in future decisions. With support, our kids can realize that failing can be a positive experience.

There is a lesson in every failure.

Life is an experiment. Every time your kids fail they learn something. As parents, it’s our job to protect them from the most drastic consequences, but we should also encourage them to get up and brush themselves off. If plan A didn’t work, don’t push them right into plan B. It’s ok to let them know that sometimes it’s time to go back to the drawing board. It’s ok to change your mind, change directions, change your path – no matter how long you’ve been working toward something. Sometimes, you have to scrap the plan completely or change some of the strategy and try again. Your kids will discover what went wrong and they will have you right there with them to help figure it out.

It’s about the journey.

Failing is not the nightmare everyone thinks it is. Even successful corporations are discovering that when their employees feel safe to fail, creativity and innovation soars. People are happier and feel confident that they can try something new without being punished. Your kids deserve the same freedom, and if you are there to prevent every tragedy, they aren’t going to learn anything. Failing builds confidence in that they can succeed if they keep persisting. Failing teaches that it’s ok to regroup and start over.

This is especially important as our kids start to venture out on their own. Our kids know that if things don’t go right, there is always a place for them with us. There is no chastising for not succeeding. There is only celebration in the journey, the learning, and the experience. There is only encouragement to figure out the next step. You don’t want to miss letting your children know that it’s ok to decide that maybe bike riding isn’t their thing, and that it’s ok to never learn to ride at all. Simply because your child fails at one thing, doesn’t mean they can’t succeed at another. The only way to know is to try and fail, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.


Parenting Raising Healthy Kids Toddlers

TV Can Be Educational

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I was never the mom who said no screen time. Are you kidding? How do you ever get anything done if you can’t sit your kid in front of the TV for 30 minutes and start laundry or dinner?

Sure, too much screen time is considered a parenting fail, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours per day. While we spent far more time reading books, listening to music, talking walks, or playing outside, sometimes, TV helped educate my kids in ways I would never have considered. I simply can’t teach everything, and classic children’s shows touched on topics that I might never have discussed at all.


We celebrate Christmas, don’t attend church, and have not had a lot of exposure to other cultures and customs with regard to the holidays. I was delighted when Blues Clues, one of the favorites in our household, aired a special holiday episode that raised awareness of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. My knowledge of these holidays was very limited, and I learned along with my children. It was such a great episode that it stuck with all of us over the years.


Both Blues Clues and Dora taught my kids language. Blues Clues used sign language with every episode, which was pretty cool, given we have a son with Down’s Syndrome who uses sign language regularly. I may be fluent in French and know a handful of Spanish words, but the regular exposure to sign language in Blues Clues and Spanish during Dora the Explorer helped open their brains to learning.


I may not have been thrilled with the kids’ insistence on watching daily doses of the purple dinosaur, but we can’t forget about Barney. I may not have loved Barney as dearly as my children, but teaching love and acceptance is never a bad thing. To visualize a diverse group of children interacting and problem-solving is something I couldn’t have recreated myself.


Not only was TV teaching my children valuable lessons, it offered a bit of respite. I could engage with my son while watching children’s programming, while simultaneously attending to his newborn sister. We would connect while watching a favorite episode of Blues Clues, but I could still manage getting a bottle and arranging for nap time. As the two got older, they were able to watch together so I could step away and get some laundry done. Now, as our granddaughter reaches the age where TV can both delight and entertain, I find myself enjoying the occasional Teletubbies episode and the trip down nostalgia lane.

TV programming is not perfect, and there are certainly shows that are more educational than others. Although TV is not a substitute for parenting, there are undeniable benefits to sitting down with your kids and watching some TV to expand their learning.


The Perils of Childhood – What’s Changed?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

The perils of childhood have changed. The safety of my kids has always been my top priority. As moms, we do the best we can with the information that we have. Of course, that information changes with every generation. What we thought we knew ten years ago is vastly different from what we “know” now. Still, I wonder at what point is too much, even in the efforts to keep our children safe.

Car seats didn’t always exist.

When I was little, I would sit in the back seat, no seat belt, and hold onto my little sister as she lay flat in the back seat, not secured by anything but my hand. Now, car seats are legally required and involve heavy safety standards, including being rear-facing until at least two in many states. Each car seat comes with an expiration date, and some experts recommend that children should be rear-facing until age four. That is a far cry with how I grew up and somehow survived. Today, you aren’t even allowed to leave the hospital without staff checking to make sure a car seat is properly installed in your vehicle. I was sent home in my mother’s arms, and honestly, even she probably wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

There were no diet rules for pregnancy.

My mom smoked while pregnant. She had a drink now and then, too. And she consumed coffee by the gallon – sweetened with saccharin no less. Now, you can’t even have a deli sandwich (meats have nitrates) without someone having a hemorrhage. No fish, no uncooked meats, and not even soda or too much coffee are allowed in a pregnant woman’s diet. New information is certainly helpful, but some of the restrictions seem ridiculous when listeria outbreaks are rampant in vegetables these days.

Kids ate whatever was served.

I distinctly remember eating pop-tarts covered in butter for breakfast, along with other wildly unhealthy choices. Gravy, sour cream, full fat everything. All. the. time. Now, there is an entire army of moms insisting that anything with GMOs or artificial flavors is detrimental to your child. There’s a whole generation of kids being raised on tofu and almond milk. It’s not even milk! It’s not even almond! It’s just white water.

Honestly, even if your kids were raised eating organic lentil bean soup with steamed tofu and my kids eat dinosaur nuggets, they both probably ate dirt and boogers. I don’t recommend smoking during pregnancy, or alcohol, but if your kid eats the occasional hotdog, they’ll probably survive.

What are considered the perils of childhood, such as unsecured car seats and processed foods, would have been laughed at when I was a child. Am I grateful that I was able to secure my own children in safe seats in a moving vehicle? Definitely. But rather than get myself in knots over what my kids eat, I have simply tried to raise healthy and safe kids, who understand moderation and learn balance.

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Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Parents are right to be concerned about pool safety for infants and toddlers. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages one to four. This doesn’t mean parents have to cut out trips to the pool altogether, however. Parents can still enjoy pool-side fun with their youngsters if they follow a few simple safety tips.

Keep Little Ones Close

Parents are the best protection for their infant or toddler while at the pool. Parents should always stay within an arms reach of their child and never turn their back on him or her. Drowning happens quickly and is often tragically silent.

Don’t Rely on Floats

Water wings, inner tubes and other floatation devices give parents a false sense of security at the pool. These devices are not meant to be a substitute for parental supervision and will not save a child from drowning. When children are provided with these devices for play in the pool, parents should still stay close by and keep their child in sight.

Teach Basic Pool Safety Rules

It’s never too soon to begin teaching young ones how to behave when around the pool. Children should be taught to walk, not run, when in the pool area. They should also be taught that rough housing is not appropriate behavior for the pool. Eliminating these two bad behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of a child slipping and falling into the pool.

Have a Phone Handy in Case of Emergency

If an accident does happen, parents should be able to call for help quickly. Seconds could mean the difference between life and death for a drowning child. Parents should always keep their cell phone on them and charged up while at the pool. Smaller public pools like those found in upscale housing communities may not have phones for use in case of an emergency.

Learn CPR for Infants and Toddlers

If an accident happens while at the pool, CPR reduces risks of brain damage and doubles the child’s chances for surviving. Every parent that plans to take their child to the pool should plan on taking an Infant and Toddler CPR course first. Getting certified is quick, easy and inexpensive. Though one-on-one classroom training is preferable, busy parents can even find free CPR training courses online.

Formal Swimming Lessons for Toddlers Age One and Up

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports swim lessons for infants and toddlers age one to four. Evidence shows that swim lessons reduces the risk of drowning in this age group. Swim lessons also provide parents with a fun way to bond with their child at the pool.